FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Mother Of All Fireworks

The vehicles are in the driveway, parked in front of a two-car garage. Both the SUV and the hybrid sedan boast statements of identity, an OBAMA BIDEN bumper sticker and a HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT bumper sticker.
A couple of houses down, two vehicles are parked in front of a two-car garage. Both boast statements of identity, a TRUMP PENCE bumper sticker and a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN bumper sticker.

This is a community of like-minded architecture. Drive home slightly inebriated from the office party and you easily might turn your key in the wrong lock. Since you are good neighbors, you can laugh about this the next day. Politics don’t affect your friendship. Sometimes you say, “Ideologies don’t separate us.” The forces that unite you are more important than what divides. The neighborhood. You share the same neighborhood.

You do agree more than you disagree. Particularly about patriotism. You are Americans.

And it’s the 4th of July. Your heart pumps with pride. Your polo shirt is adorned with the faces carved into Mount Rushmore’s stone. The shirt further is decorated with the image of an American eagle, stars and stripes. Your wife’s dangling American flag earrings sparkle.

Great design—the vast park in the center of the community, houses curled around the perimeter. Fun for the children and grandchildren. On July 4th, you’re treated to a display as spectacular as any offered by a city. If there were a firework extravaganza contest, your community’s would take the red, white, and blue ribbon.

The grill’s coals have burned nearly to ash. Each of you is stuffed after piling your plate with barbequed chicken, hotdogs, baked beans, and potato salad, washed down with beer, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir and a variety of colas for the kids.

Almost time for the talent. Lee Greenwood’s rendition of God Bless the U.S.A. erupts. God Bless the United States of

America. Here, sing along:

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I’d worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife
I’d thank my lucky stars
To be living here today
Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can’t take that away
And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I gladly stand up
Next to you and defend her still today
Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land
God bless the US

Oh. My. God. You have goose bumps. Suddenly colors explode through the dark of night. Greenwood’s still singing. Another BOOM. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.

“I’m grateful to God for this,” someone says.

“For this country, this neighborhood, family, friendship.”

No one says anything though about the BOOMBOOMBOOM of war. No one thinks about the MOAB, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat, that the U.S. Military dropped in Afghanistan on April 13th. Or the missile strikes in Syria. Or the weapons sold to the Saudis by the United States for war in Yemen. Or that euphemism, collateral damage.

In the United States on the 4th of July, explosions in air elicit, well, a feeling of superiority, exceptionalism. Awe. Nobody mentions Iraq and that initial assault called Shock and Awe. In the United States on the 4th of July, propaganda is ritualized.

Nobody at the observances across the country says a word about what it must be like to live torn by war where a flash and BOOM signals grabbing your children and searching for safety. Nobody says someday Russia or China or North Korea will grow weary of U.S. bullying. That a BOOM no longer would be pageantry but instead mushroom clouds, nuclear annihilation, mutually assured destruction.

If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life …

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail