A little late, but better than never.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a very patriotic person (at least as it is defined in current political discourse by either the left or right); my loyalties lie with my family, the Church and the local community.  But on the Fourth of July I don’t mind watching fireworks displays with my children, and so we headed down to the local riverfront to watch the annual show over the Mississippi River.

Somewhere in the middle of it, I was struck with a thought: these fireworks are supposed to represent “the bombs bursting in air.” This is the reenactment of battle, albeit with a lot of artistic license.

I apparently wasn’t the only one with this thought. Iraq II veteran Ryan Harvey had these thoughts:

I tend to believe … that the fireworks celebration is not about Independence, it’s about explosions. It’s about war. It’s a yearly mass-experience that reminds us that we live in a culture of violence and that we are safe enough from war that we can celebrate it from a detached position. But it’s not a conspiracy by some branch of government or some multinational fireworks company, it’s a cultural practice, an unwritten consensus.

You can read the rest of Harvey’s essay at Iraq Veterans Against the War.

It’s officially six years since the war started in Iraq. To paraphrase Thomas Merton, we’re enjoying the benefits of the world we worked so hard to create.