Last night was the sixth of July.  The sixth.  Not the fourth. The sixth. 

The neighbors behind us set off booming, roaring, popping fireworks from 9:30 until about three seconds before midnight or, as the time was counted in our house, at three seconds before Jack went off with his own explosion.

It’s ironic that, as a nation, we celebrate our independence with Chinese fireworks that mimic war.  Great fun for children and people who have never been in any actual battle.  Not so great for warriors. 

We had four combat veterans at our house for an informal barbeque on the fourth, the actual date when fireworks exploding again and again and again into the night sky is acceptable and expected.  All four vets ate steak and potato salad on our deck on Independence Day and watched the afternoon sky closely.  They fidgeted as the day wore on, startled when the kids next door set off a small string of firecrackers, and all left well before dark. 

For many combat veterans The Fourth of July is the worst day of the year.  Civilians love the color blooming against the stars, the flash and beauty of pyrotechnics.  Those who have been in war often see something else entirely in those flashes of color.  The combination of the light like tracers and the booming noise is far too much like war itself.  I suppose that’s why those who play at war love fireworks and those who have actually been there do not.   

One guy’s celebration is the next guy’s flashback.