In anticipation of Independence Day, here’s a quick extract from Steve Macone’s Boston Globe essay about the temptation and dangers of illegal fireworks:
In this state [Massachusetts]—for weeks and months around the date—we celebrate the day in which our government broke away from another in order to make our own rules by violating the rules set by that new government. It’s beautifully, stupidly appropriate—America was, originally, illegal.And as another public-safety announcement, here’s a link to my 2006 posting “Ezekiel Goldthwait: fireworks victim.”
The Department of Fire Services reports 45 people were burned on more than 5 percent of their bodies by fireworks between 1999 and 2008, a figure that doesn’t account for eye injuries, smaller burns, or the fact that 12-year-olds are not known for their injury reporting skills in the face of being grounded. “The typical fireworks injury is a boy 7-14,” said Jennifer Mieth of the Department of Fire Services. “They’re not driving up to New Hampshire and buying them themselves. When the kids see Uncle Jim use fireworks with impunity they think, ‘Well, I can do that.’”
We all know what’s good about fireworks. There’s something of the American ideal in their upward trajectory and beauty on the backdrop of open space. The fingers of the explosions, shooting off in exponential pathways, are a sort of Manifest Destiny writ large across the sky. And each beach organization always trying to improve upon last year’s show is like pyrotechnics as a sign of progress.
But that’s where fireworks belong: in the sky, not in kids’ hands—reflected in a child’s glimmering eyes, not lodged there. No one ever watches the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and thinks, “You know, I would like to orchestrate a smaller yet more dangerous version of that in my backyard.”