Fireworks on the Fourth of July -- it's a cherished tradition that goes back so far, we almost can't imagine celebrating Independence Day any other way. But this year, many of our service members will have to go without that light show. Fireworks are furloughed for many military bases this summer no thanks to the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect in March.
The Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, Fort Bragg, and the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia, and other bases will have to do without the annual fireworks display this year. Federal workers are losing pay as it is, and base officials can't justify the expense. Last year's celebration at Camp Lejeune cost $100,000.
Choosing between paying people and fireworks -- that's tough, but I think we all know what the military's priorities should be. There are families depending on those paychecks. It's got to put a damper on people's spirits, though. For many, fireworks aren't just a lot of noise and lights in the sky. They're an important tradition that brings people together. "I know fireworks might seem silly to other people,” say mom of two Brandy Rhoad Stowe. “But what is the Fourth of July without fireworks?"
If the Fourth of July is about celebrating our country's independence and freedom, though, the most important thing is for communities to get together -- regardless of whether there are fireworks or not. Bases will still have some events, like games and parades. Maybe this is an opportunity for parents to talk with their kids about sacrifice and gratitude. I wouldn't be surprised if some civilian communities near bases try and fund fireworks displays of their own.
It's easy to say it's just not the Fourth of July without fireworks -- but that's not true. Nothing can take away what this holiday means to you. Not even budget cuts.
How do you feel about fireworks shows being cut from military base celebrations?
Image via Bayasaa/Flickr