Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: Fourth of July fireworks show contradicts the Island’s values

Before Tom Stewart (yes, there was a time before the Mighty Fireworks Show) the evening of Independence Day was filled with the muffled sounds of scattered, home-purchased fireworks, both legal and not-so-legal. The zing of pinwheels, the spinning fire of ground blooms, even the whistle and pop of noise-only fireworks, these were the accompaniment to neighborhood and family picnics.

I love the smell of gunpowder mixed with sizzling hot dog aroma. I love knowing that people are sitting around campfires, their sweatshirts and hair soaking up the smoke that will take at least two washings to shed.

On this wonderful little Island of ours, we talk around those campfires — politics and religion, holistic healing, gardening, family lore, ethics and why or why not they should close Dockton Road. They are times to be cherished, as we chomp down on potluck and remember people who are no longer with us.

I am not saying Tom Stewart was not generous. I am not saying I hate the Fourth. But I stand firmly by the belief that subjecting our homes, and the homes of the wildlife we claim to cherish, to a yearly experience of war is really a poor way to spend our money and our time.

When we are experiencing economic instability, when so many are homeless, when parents cannot afford food for themselves and their children, when seniors have to choose between a loaf of bread and refilling a prescription, the tens of thousands of dollars our Island businesses spend on professional fireworks for 30 minutes of glory seem so incredibly selfish.

Where I live, in a hollow at the foot of Maury Island, right next to the fireworks barge, those 30 minutes are my little sampling of what war must feel like: sheer terror, and I know when it will start and end.

I know it is just a show. As I stood in my dark woods last night, calling to the equines to let them know I was out in it with them, I prayed for all the domestic animals and wildlife impacted by the blasts.

Were all the wild babies so recently born all right? And I prayed, too, for the men and women who have fought for that freedom we so casually celebrate, and for those of our world who have lived through real bombings of their real homes, as the percussive waves moved through the air.

People I know spent last night hiding, the way my animals and the forest animals were hiding. Our choice of professional fireworks abuses so many.

We are so proud of this Island. “Only on Vashon,” we say. We claim to have values; we are Green; we cherish the earth.

Are we walking the talk?

— Debbie Butler

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