For many, the Fourth of July equals barbecues, a day spent on the water, and fireworks. Veterans love the Fourth of July. It’s the birthday of the country they love and fight for! Fireworks, not so much. You may have seen a picture of this sign floating around social media. I first caught sight of it a year ago and it made me stop and think. My husband has PTSD and fireworks do bother him, but is it my neighbors responsibility to stop using them in their celebrations?
Last year was the first year my husband had to deal with fireworks since 2010. We were overseas from the end of 2010 through 2013 and it was easy to avoid them. They were always on base, we lived off base, and just never went. When July rolled around last year, the husband decided he wanted to go to the sprint car races on the fourth. Before the races started, we stood for the National Anthem and fireworks.. Have you ever had to helplessly stand there and watch your big bear of a husband, fists clenched at his sides and tears running down his face, try to mentally make it through something that painful? That was horrible. What do you do? The fireworks were that upsetting to him. We were in the stands, surrounded by people, and all I could do was let him know I was there if he needed me. I told him we could go, but he said he had to get through it. He actually had worse experiences with that not long after he returned from Iraq, but that isn’t my story to tell.
Last year, he knew the fireworks were coming and it still bothered him. What do you think would happen if he had no idea they were coming and just heard them? I really don’t know what would happen, but they could easily cause him to have a flashback. I don’t want that to happen. He understands that fireworks are a big part of the holiday and he isn’t about to ask anyone to change their ways for him though. My grandpa, a Korean vet, never liked fireworks either and I’m betting most vets don’t. I could understand why someone would put a sign in their yard, notifying their neighbors that they are a combat vet. Maybe the neighbors would he courteous enough to let him know they are going to shoot fireworks off. Maybe they wouldn’t shoot them off every night for weeks before the fourth. A flashback doesn’t just happen and then it’s gone. The feelings associated with it can last for days. It can knock you out. No one is asking you to not shoot off fireworks this year, but just be courteous with them.
For more information on the signs, check out the Explosion of Kindness campaign through Military With PTSD.