Friday, July 3, 2009

Rich Enough for Fireworks

It caught my eye: a fireworks display taking up most of the page of the Wall Street Journal today. The article said 40,000 pounds of fireworks are set to explode over New York City in commemoration of Independence Day.

The show, this time on the Hudson River, will feature ten thousand more explosions than last year, with eight times more fireworks shooting higher than 600 feet. The show will be computer-choreographed to "American River Suite," an original piece by Tony Award-winning composer Stephen Flaherty, performed by the New York Pops symphonic orchestra.

Here in Seattle, we won't get up-close-and-personal with the fireworks, as they start just as Shabbat is concluding, but from our view-point we'll get to see fireworks illuminating Lake Washington, rather closely, from Renton's Coulon Park, as well as along the skyline. Downtown, Lake Union will be teeming with viewers for its spectacular, computer-synched to traditional anthems broadcast on a special sound-system. If it weren't Shabbat, our family would probably watch from downtown Bellevue Park, where the local symphony orchestra provides the accompaniment to yet another computer-synched show.

What does all this suggest to me? With an unemployment rate of 9.5%, and car makers receiving welfare; with many taking hits in their paychecks, with housing prices depressed, and loans nearly impossible to obtain--our nation is still wealthy! Not just in the spirit that motivates cities to spend these big bucks for fireworks displays--not the most essential of expenditures--but in the actual dollars to pay for them. Yes, generous corporations (hooray for big business!) sponsor the displays, but cities also fork over, if only for the maintenance of facilities where the patriotic crowds gather, later leaving their garbage mark.

Even with all the cuts we hear about, even with all the complaints and whining, we still manage to make gorgeous and enthralling fireworks displays in nearly every municipality. Ivar's, the famed local fish monger and restaurants, used to sponsor an additional extravaganza on Elliot Bay, having stepped forward one year when the city couldn't foot the bill. But this year they demurred, committing to other local charities, for the simple reason that there were so many other displays within just a mile or two, so their particular contribution was no longer needed. That's how rich and blessed we are in this nation.

No wonder our founders suggested we celebrate our nation's birth with illuminations--we have existed these 233 years in the light of wisdom and unbounded gifts from the Almighty. Happy Independence Day!

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