Monday, July 4, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 15 - Independence Day

Independence Day: July 4, 1776. The date that our country signed the Declaration of Independence.

It has become a day of celebration of freedom from the British and over time and has become a holiday that people don't remember the purpose of and instead has just become another day of celebration. And two major motion pictures starring Jeff Goldblum:

When I was a kid, I used to love shooting off fireworks. It was the excitement and thrill of lighting them, the colors they created in the air, the intensity of the explosions. I have many fond memories of setting off fireworks in the cul-de-sac right outside my house and then later in the countryside when they were banned inside city limits. I enjoyed time with family and friends with good company and good food. 

Then one day, I joined the Army. 

Through 3 1/2 years I was trained with a firearm, trained for the possible need to kill another human being, and trained to survive. I was fortunate in that I never deployed but sometimes with my training I felt like I had. After all, they were training us as if we would. 

And the thing about fireworks is: they sound like gunshots in the distance. 

I don't get freaked out by fireworks or jump at the sound but I can tell you that my heart rate elevates, I'm taken back to one of the most miserable and depressing periods of my life, and it's almost like I'm there again. True, I never deployed, but I can at least start to understand what those who did went through. 

I think that when it comes to the sound of fireworks it's not just the sound association. You see, when I was in those environments when gunfire would be solidified inside my mind there is something else I had: a firearm of my own to protect me. When that M16 was in my hands, I thought less about other gunfire. I think it's something about gunfire without a way to protect myself that gets into my head. I'm not sure. But that's what it feels like.

The point is, I understand what it's like to be a military vet on the 4th of July.

Nothing is ever the same, coming back from war or training in war. 

Life changes drastically.

Tolkien understood this far too well. And that's why the end of Lord of the Rings is so brilliant. 

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