I have always liked fireworks, to a point.
I was one of those smiling kids who loved watching my brothers light rockets and throw cherry bombs. It was something I looked ahead to, and remembered fondly.
But, over the years, my fireworks fascination has dwindled. I love going to public displays which I consider safe and sound, but when the neighborhood resounds with endless blasts and fills with the smell of gunpowder, I get a little annoyed.
Particularly when it goes on for days before and after, until the last Power Blaster is lit and dies on the stained asphalt of our street.
What bothers me most is the danger with these fireworks. I have seen incidents and heard of accidents where the real menace of home displays has become tragic. To me, it isn't worth the while for the risk.
Some say fireworks resonate the sounds and sights of the Revolutionary War, but I am still to see a photo of a Minuteman with a sparkler, or a Virginia regular putting a string of firecrackers in a mailbox.
What home fireworks really represent is America's love for a party. We are, after all, a nation of holidayers and weekenders who love to play and you can't take the Roman candle away. I think there's something about that in the Second Amendment, too.
I mean, outlaw fireworks and what's next? A ban on ice beer chests and lawn chairs with little pockets on the arms for your can of Coors?
It may be a matter of taking the Blockbuster finale from one's cold dead hands. The ones with three fingers missing because a one-pounder went off too quickly.
Oh well. Fireworks are a part of life, I know. But what I am really loving about the 4th is warming lake water, picnics with cherry pies, kids scrambling along the beach, the inevitable watermelon, and some of that so-bad-for-you fried chicken.
Let's not forget to fly the flag! It is a symbol of our greatness that continues to take pride in the wind despite of the growing army of detractors in our midst. I like to recall the line from the National Anthem that goes "does that star-spangled banner yet wave," as proof we're resilient and confident.
When Francis Scott Key wrote that during the War of 1812, I believe he wondered if the flag was still in place over Fort Baltimore as he watched the bombardment from a British ship. I am not sure he is talking to this generation, but – like the Constitution – the words still live, and the flag continues to make us proud.
You can burn it, refuse to pledge allegiance to it, and curse what it stands for, but it doesn't dip to any critic. The colors are strong evidence of our beliefs, and without them there would be no icon to click on to reboot the national esprit de corps.
May the red, white and blue eternally yet wave.