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Delegate calls on Bel Air Independence Day Committee to reconsider July 4 fireworks [Letter]

The Fourth of July is a day set aside to commemorate our great achievement, the creation of a new nation based on the guiding principles of our nation’s Constitution.  As a former Marine, I have a great deal of pride in our country and I am always greatly moved by the celebrations of our country’s independence.

The first commemorative Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777. The Pennsylvania Evening Post wrote that in Philadelphia, “The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with 13 rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” The paper noted that “Everything was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal.” 

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Ever since this time, fireworks on Independence Day have not just been about a spectacle, but rather a clear symbol of celebration and of victory. It is the celebration of the freedom for the people of our United States of America.  The American Revolution and the birth of our nation was a monumental step in world history toward the establishment of human rights and individual liberty.

The decision to fight for our freedom nearly 250 years ago was a difficult choice and one that brave Americans made without hesitation.  The Bel Air Independence Day Committee’s decision to cancel this years fireworks display, without proper planning, public input and collaboration with other stakeholders, is disappointing. This decision minimizes the significance of the sacrifices of those who have fought so bravely to protect our freedoms and for those currently serving in the United States military defending us today.  I am calling on the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, the Bel Air Town Council and the Town Administrator to develop a plan to safely go forward with this year’ Fourth of July fireworks celebration, with public input and collaboration with local and county stakeholders.  

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Many of us are struggling now economically, or have been personally affected or personally known someone who contracted the coronavirus. These are not easy times and we each have been affected one way or the other. But, one thing we have in common is that we are Americans. We are resilient. A great job has been done educating people on the risks of the coronavirus and people across our region are practicing social distancing, protecting themselves and protecting those who are most susceptible. I believe we can put a plan in place that will combine strict social distancing guidelines, mutual respect for our fellow citizens, and technological initiative by streaming the fireworks for those who cannot or choose to not attend. By following this plan we can allow this symbol to represent that we have not been defeated by this virus. We have overcome so much in our history and we will overcome the present trials as well, and we will emerge strong.  

I believe that the fireworks are also a symbol of our nation’s resilience. After surviving the freezing winter at Valley Forge, the many strenuous battles of the Revolution, the economic draining of the colonists to support the Continental Army, and the fear of defeat and accompanying treason charges, our ancestors emerged victorious. So will we. 

MIKE GRIFFITH

Bel Air

The writer is a Republican member of the Maryland House of Delegates, representing District 35B.

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