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Local Opinion: No more fireworks for me on Fourth of July

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed Fourth of July celebrations. As a kid growing up in Minnesota, the family would gather at my aunt and uncle’s home on Lake Minnetonka and shoot off Roman candles and other contraband fireworks that my father brought back from his business trips to South Dakota. We kids ran around with our sparklers and we all knew we were celebrating the founding of the country we loved.

The summer between my junior and senior year of high school, my girl scout troop toured Europe. As representatives of the country that saved the world from Hitler’s wrath we were enthusiastically welcomed everywhere we went, and how proud and privileged we felt.

As an adult, living in Southern California with my own family, we attended the Fourth of July concert at the Hollywood Bowl where the Los Angeles symphony orchestra played patriotic music. I shed patriotic tears singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” While fireworks bloomed in the sky, we walked to our cars feeling like the luckiest and most privileged people on earth.

Later, while living in the Tucson foothills, we would gather with friends on our back patio and watch the multiple firework displays from a distance — “A” mountain, Tucson Country Club, Westward Look and others. Despite the heat, we always looked forward to this special day.

The past few years we have celebrated the holiday in Colorado where our two daughters and their families reside and it’s a special occasion because we are all together and even though we don’t always agree politically, we all share a love of country.

This year, however, I will not celebrate the Fourth of July. Those fireworks with the loud booming and colorful bursts of fire are only a reminder of how militarized and unsafe we all are now. Each boom and each colorful burst of firepower now represents each of the lives lost to a hate-filled maniac with an assault rifle.

Instead of our elected representatives providing us with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” they have made us fearful of attending a worship service, going to a supermarket, shopping at the mall or even going to school or sending our kids to school.

The country that in the past made me feel so proud is now a country where mass shootings frequently occur — even in schools and our elected representatives do nothing. They take their campaign donations from the gun lobbyists and pledge their loyalty to the manufacturers of death.

Instead of feeling pride, I now feel shame and fear.

Sharon Olbert is a senior citizen with deep roots in Tucson.

Sharon Olbert is a senior citizen with deep roots in Tucson.

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