Down the Road a Piece

By MILT GROSS | Jul 05, 2014

Nonindependence Night

A neighbor reminded me that another neighbor would be shooting off tons -- well, maybe not tons exactly -- of fireworks on the night of July 4 and for several days afterward.

This was also a reminder to me of a different sort, the Independence Day Night to me is anything but Independence Night. It is a night when we have to keep the windows closed and try to avoid being blasted out of our home by an apparently selfish neighbor. (Selfish because he apparently thinks only of his own pleasure, setting off noisy fireworks)

This nonindependence for us is because of a certain governor, who managed to legalized fireworks in Maine several years ago. Again, I’m not certain that he did this to celebrate independence, but rather, in my opinion, to provide a way for businesses to bring in a bit more cash for themselves and sales taxes for our state.

I never have thought Independence Day was to be a means for businesses to make more money. I think of it as a way to celebrate our nation’s independence; on July 4 we thoroughly enjoyed watching on TV the celebration in both Washington, D.C. and in New York City. Both emphasized our freedom and independence from other nations that was won by our forefathers from the British. (This was far different than that noisy, selfish neighbor.)

For years, sometimes as a reporter and sometimes as someone’s friend who was dragged into going -- nonindependent friendship -- to a community fireworks display, I attended these noisy affairs. I was never a lover of loud noises, and being forced to attend a fireworks display took away a bit of my independence, as well as a bit of my remaining sanity.

Why the fireworks? Is it because the U.S. declared independence from Great Britain with a lot of shooting? Perhaps. But in reality the shooting was only the means to an end. The end was the independence from English taxes and English control. I believe it was the Declaration of Independence that we should be celebrating -- done on paper by a group of men around a table or in uncomfortable chairs in Philadelphia. I have never read of any fireworks in that room.

I’ve sat in the grass during fireworks, my most recent grass-sitting-during-fireworks times were in Bar Harbor. I remember the racket and the “ooohs” and “aaahs” of fellow grass sitters. I also remember walking a long distance to find my car afterwards and waiting in traffic for what seemed like half the night to actually drive away from the commotion. The first time I parked nearby -- big mistake. I had to wait for everybody else to unpark, hit the street, and finally get crawling.

I never felt much independence those nights.

When I met and later married Dolores, we were both old enough to want to sit at home and not hear fireworks as part of our independence celebration. That never has happened. We got to sit at home all right, but subject to the racket neighbors made celebrating their independence -- or celebration that they were allowed to cause enough racket to wake the dead as well as keep their neighbors awake.

Our good governor. I wonder if he is forced to listen to fireworks, either at a public display or at home. Or has he found a way to at taxpayer expense soundproof his mansion so he doesn’t have to hear all the racket caused by a law he apparently helped bring into play which promotes all that racket.

For you who like to make or hear the bone-rattling fireworks -- hope you enjoy your Independence Night. Do you remember the real meaning of that celebration?

For you, who like us, would prefer to have enjoyed some peace and quiet on Independence Day and Night, welcome to Nonindependence Day and Night-- the celebration by those who don’t care whose independence they steal.

For years, I was afraid to say anything criticizing the July Fourth celebration. I thought maybe I’d be accused of being a Communist or some other evil type of guy.

I’ve finally realized, I’m just an American who would like to celebrate Independence Day and Night my own way -- without disturbing everybody else.*

*Yup, I know the Fourth is now in our past. It’s not my fault that the paper is published after that date or that the Fourth came before the paper was published. And it’s not my fault I was so stupid a week ago that I didn’t write this then.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014

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