Fireworks, Fevered Trauma for Veterans

BY: CLAIRE KIM

While this past 4th of July declined in celebration due to the claims of persistent inequality currently present in our country (which I fully agree with), the beloved American tradition of setting off fireworks still speckled the night sky in the end. For many, despite tensions with social justice, the sight of these fireworks was exciting, something to look forward to amidst the present condition of our country: coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. It was a reminder of US patriotism that these days seem to be lacking, but deservedly should be lacking because of Trump’s despicable actions and policies. It was a reminder of how beautiful and awe-inspiring innovation is, driving hope for the soon to be released coronavirus vaccine’s success. And lastly, for many, it was a moment of nostalgia, only this time it was experienced from the comfort of our homes rather than the usual tarps and camping tents set up at our local parks.

This year’s fireworks sparked new ideas, new sentiments, and new emotions. For most of us, the fireworks show probably felt different, less spirited than any of the years before, and that’s normal. But, if there is one group of individuals who felt a deeper sense of pain than that of ourselves, it would have to be our country’s veterans, those individuals who spent years listening to such explosive noises only they weren’t as celebratory as fireworks. They were guns, bombs, cannons, etc. ready to murder anyone who got hit by them.

As many are probably aware, most if not all veterans suffer a certain extent of PTSD (post-traumatic stress order) after completing their military service. Hearing gunshots at night, seeing their comrades suddenly pass away at war, veterans can’t help but emotionally break down when they are reminded of such moments from their soldier years, even if they are surrounded by their loved ones… even if they are at home… even if they are celebrating the most patriotic day of the year: the 4th of July.

Fireworks, with their crackle and explode jingle, can most definitely trigger former soldiers who heard such noises at war. It’s reasonable that many have claimed to feel mentally distressed when fireworks sound as they blare almost identically to the gunshots they’ve probably heard of in the past. It’s kind of ironic how the one day (other than Veteran’s Day) veterans are supposed to feel at home in America, a majority of them feel tormented and emotional due to the fireworks we endearingly enjoy.

Maybe we can create silent fireworks? Virtual fireworks?

Just a thought…

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