Amid the Macy's firework display this past weekend along the Hudson River I leaned over to my family and inquired, "Umm.. so what are we celebrating again?" Not long before, two New Yorkers were at the beginnings of what could have evolved into a heated argument over personal space - which at these events is as likely of a thing to acquire as a cab during a snowstorm in the middle of --- well you can see where that's going. Fortunately, the man in violation backed down and all slates were wiped clean as the reason countless faces converged on the same location appeared flightily in the night's sky.
I've been an inactive New Yorker for 19 years. Though some of those can be attributed to my dependent youth, most of it is due to what I would call the 'Vicinity Excuse'. Great things to behold are nearby, but they're also not going anywhere, so I vow to get to it eventually. Unlike whole milk, 'eventually' lacks an expiration date. Since this summer is probably the last I'll spend doing nothing but running, I decided it was time to experience more of the greatest place on earth. No, not your random town, my externally reinforced, self-absorbed, heck of a town New York City. Anyway, I digress.
According to Macy's sensationalized, and very well marketed webpage, the "pyrotechnic extravaganza" was set up to celebrate America's 223rd birthday, more commonly known as Independence Day. A homage to those who fought for the success of the nation we enjoy today, right? I guess. I don't remember much from my American History classes to tell you the truth, and the fireworks don't do much to reinforce my notion of historic pride either. Don't misunderstand my sentiments, I love fireworks, they're freakin' cool. I'm just saying, if I were a descendant of someone who fought in the American Revolution I'd be lukewarm toward the festivities. Beyond sounding like an active war zone, how does it represent the hardships and the history of the distant past?
As I left the event early with my mom and brother who happen to be English citizens, I contemplated my feelings toward my very first, live Independence Day firework show. Overall it seemed to be a very loud, mid air display of American prowess with explosives for twenty-nine minutes. It was brilliant, but felt greatly disconnected from the event for which it originated. I'm not sure which should be more sought after: the ooh's and ahh's people collectively emitted for fifteen minutes, or an informed understanding of the intrinsic reason the 4th of July is a big deal in the first place. Why not both? Probably because one draws more people and makes more money than the latter would.
Can we have our cake and eat it too?