Monday, July 4, 2011


Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

So, happy 4th of July, internets.

Normally, I like this holiday--the barbecues and fireworks and parades. I especially liked it in Germany. There's something about a whole community of Americans coming together to celebrate our nation's independence while in another country as part of the post WWII occupation.

This year...I don't love it so much. This year, I'm exhausted, and it's all The 4th of July's fault.

I guess I'm just old. I don't know. But the fireworks the neighbors have been setting off until well past midnight are killing me. Last night I found myself laying in bed on the verge of tears from pure exhaustion saying, "Please just stop. Please just stop. Please just stop."

But the night before last was far worse.

They kept going off until around 12:30 am. They finally stopped and I drifted off to sleep. Around 2:15 I was jolted awake by several more rounds. A few minutes later I heard a woman screaming for help out in the street.

I went downstairs and debated going outside. On one hand, I didn't want to ignore her if she needed help. On the other hand, I didn't want to get caught in the crossfire of a shoot out, or catch the attention of a zombie axe murderer. You never know why someone might be screaming for help. So, I looked out the window to assess the situation. Several other [far braver and selfless than I] neighbors were already running toward her. So I headed out to the porch to find out what was going on.

Her husband just returned from Afghanistan a couple of months ago. He's infantry and had been involved in numerous firefights and had also been in a vehicle hit by an IED. Understandably, he suffered from PTSD.

He was fine during all the fireworks being set off up through midnight because he was awake and expecting them. But, like most everyone else on the street, he was sound asleep at 2 am when the second round started.

His wife said he jolted out of bed, took cover under the bed and started screaming. He was screaming for help. Screaming that he needed a medic. Screaming that they'd taken hits.

She couldn't calm him down, and she worried he'd eventually go for their gun to defend himself. And that's how she ended up in the street screaming for help. The police arrived within a few minutes, and a few of the other soldiers from our street went in with them. They knew they'd probably be better equipped to talk him down than anyone else.

I went back in and went to bed, so I'm not sure what happened after that. But it made me think about all the other soldiers here who have just returned home from places where the sounds of shots and booms were not equated with a holiday celebration. And then I reminded myself that I should be thankful that late night fireworks are only a nuisance for me, and not something that could trigger abject fear and horror.

So, tonight while you're watching fireworks, I hope you remember, too.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be nice or I'll punch you in the taco.