I live in a town that bows down to the two big G's: God and Guns (I think in that order, but it's not always clear). Needless to say, 4th of July is probably second only to Christmas here in terms of celebration. People wear a badge of pride about crossing the border into Wyoming before the 4th to get the good (aka illegal) fireworks. Competitions for the best fireworks are common place, and authorities often look the other way at the "dangerous" kind. One of the best illegal displays last year was the guy down the block from me--who happens to be a firefighter.
Despite the ban on all fireworks this year (including the town's big extravaganza) due to the worst year of wildfires on record, my hubby and I were sure that someone would shoot off something to mark America's holiday. We were positive that some jerk would endanger others by taking issue with their God-given right to bear firearms or fireworks. We were wrong.
One of the themes I explore in my novels is just what it would take to bring people together and forget their differences, be they political, religious, or otherwise. I'm not sure what the answer was tonight, but the silence was deafening.
Maybe it was the smoke that still hung thick in the air from the fires, prompting an air advisory to stay indoors. Maybe it was the fact that an entire neighborhood burned to the ground less than forty minutes from here, leaving only razed houses and dead bodies in its wake. Maybe the answer, sad as it is, is that it takes something horrific for people to come together.
All I know is that not a single firecracker was heard the entire night. The eerie quiet seemed to symbolize that people realized their families and neighborhoods were more important than anything else. That maybe we have more in common than we, or the media, want to believe. I don't know if I can live here forever, but I found a spark of humanity in the silence tonight. For now, that is enough.