Fireworks celebrate the dream that created America.
From the dream that started with the phrase "all (men) are created equal" to the Bill of Rights and freedom of religion; from the 14th Amendment's re-emphasis that the Bill of Rights applies to all states; from the 19th Amendment to the Civil Rights Act; our nation comes ever closer to realizing this dream: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (men) are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
We celebrate this country's beginning on the Fourth of July, the date of acceptance of and commitment to adopt this dream as our goal. The fireworks of the Fourth of July are important as a celebration and as a way to bring us together. Some cities across the United States have questioned fireworks shows due to the effect on air quality and the noise and flash that can disturb some people and animals. But, as some cities have said, value lies in public activity and discourse. There is no greater activity and discourse that brings us together as Americans than giant fireworks shows.
We could go out and individually buy and set off big exploding rockets ourselves, but a public show brings us together and reminds us that we are all Americans and that we should work together to bring us closer to the dream that started this country. The concern about air pollution may be valid, but to try to stop the one greatest event of the year best able to bring us together doesn't make sense. We have bigger air pollution problems that affect us every day and that should be targeted for more effective and successful pollution reductions.
If we stopped all events that could increase air pollution, we would have to stop all sports games that have tens of thousands of attendees and stop encouraging shows that get people out of their homes. When tens of thousands of people are trying to leave these shows, the idling vehicles send a tremendous amount of pollution into the air.
We celebrate New Year's Eve, basketball, football, baseball and soccer games with fireworks. Whether it is playing sports, watching games, celebrating victories or fireworks, the result is that they bring us together as Americans. The fireworks shows remind us that this country is special and that it makes this world a better place. Our country deserves to be celebrated with as big a show as possible. America deserves to be celebrated in style with great shows.
Fireworks are a very visible and great audible reminder that we are Americans and that we got to where we are by reducing divisiveness, polarization and lowering the barriers to working together that started with the Declaration of Independence. We still have a way to go, but we are trying. When those fireworks explode, everyone is looking up together and reminding themselves that we are Americans. We are celebrating America and we shouldn't stop celebrating. Those sports and celebrations should be more than celebrated. They should be encouraged.
George Chapman is a former Navy officer and retired engineer who is a resident of Salt Lake City.