Today is the beginning of a long 4th of July weekend! The holiday lands on a Tuesday this year, so for many, the holiday will begin on Friday and continue for four days.
I understand the fun and enjoyment some people may have from setting off fireworks. Although there are many legal fireworks here, there is a never-ending supply of both legal and illegal varieties lying in wait for the excited revelers to buy just across state-lines. There you can purchase the big ones, the percussion of which shakes the houses in the neighborhood. For those who are buying them and bringing them back to their quiet neighborhood streets, it’s a dream come true.
Unfortunately for some of our combat veterans, it can also be a nightmare come true. For those vets with post-traumatic stress disorder, that string of firecrackers sounds like automatic weapons fire, and the big explosions sound like the IEDs that threatened so many of their lives.
Flashbacks are a horrible reliving of past traumatic events. When you are setting off these illegal fireworks, chances are there is someone hearing them who are struggling with their combat-related trauma. If you are unable to resist the urge to set-off those huge explosions, then please consider driving out somewhere that is less populated.
For many dogs, the sounds reverberating off the other houses can often make them disoriented. Their stress level becomes unbearable with some of our animals running away or getting lost. There are numerous stories right now from shelters talking about how many dogs come to them during the 4th of July weekend, who aren’t tagged and are traumatized by the noise of the fireworks.
Try talking to your neighbors who are setting off the big ones, or write them a letter. Many people don’t know that they are harming some of our vets, scaring our little children, or making our animals shake with fear.
People who suffer from PTSD, (whether it is combat-induced or other trauma related) will try to do what they can to take care of themselves over the weekend. I’m trekking off the boundary waters canoe area for four days with my dog who is also deeply affected by firecrackers exploding. In many neighborhoods where I live, the 4th of July has gone from, the ooh and ahh of fireworks displays at the local parks, too many houses on almost every street having their own sunup to sundown fireworks/firecrackers celebrations.
Please be courteous when setting off your fireworks and firecrackers at your home next weekend. Be thoughtful not only of our veterans but also the small children, elderly, pets, and others who may suffer from illness and startle easily.
Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph