I’m spending the 4th of July Holiday in my hometown in Illinois. Its a small river town with tree lined streets and antique homes where people display the flag year-round. There are block parties, pot-lucks, socials and BBQs. There are still parades with civic organizations, not just this or that city government agency. Its a place where children still play outside after dusk. I love celebrating the 4th here, because it is still mostly the America where I grew up. I come here so my daughter can see it, because I’m afraid I won’t be able to bequeath her that America.
Its somewhat ironic that we celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, because based on my drive across the country, most Americans aren’t allowed anywhere near fireworks. States like New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, once known as the birthplaces of the revolution, prohibit citizens from possessing any fireworks. Ohio lets you have “snakes” and “sparklers” and pretty much nothing else. Even Indiana and Illinois, which allow some fireworks, prohibit fire-crackers and roman candles. You can always tell the states with fairly liberal fireworks laws, because as soon as you cross their border there will be a big permanent fireworks store.
Today, fireworks are pretty much reserved to city governments and some private clubs. They are organized displays, not something individuals can be entrusted to use on their own. They are now something we watch, not something we are allowed to do.
Is this a small thing? Yes. But, liberty is the culmination of small things. And, the loss of liberty comes not just with sweeping changes like ObamaCare, but small little “takings” done in the name of protecting us. Where, when and what we can drink, eat, smoke. What we can take on an airplane. What we can do on our own property.
This is a day of celebration, so I won’t belabor the point. You all understand what I’m saying. We have allowed so many freedoms to be slowly eroded that now, 236 years after the Declaration of Independence, we’ll gather to watch other people put on a firework display for us. Because our government must protect us from ourselves.
And for those few brave souls who try to have their own firework display, this is probably your last few years to do it. The next 4th of July will probably see drones in the sky making sure there isn’t a rogue roman candle somewhere. For our own good.