It’s the 4th of July, our country’s birthday and we sure do enjoy celebrating with a bang!  In fact in 1776, John Adams, after signing of the Declaration of Independence sent a letter to his wife, calling for the annual "illuminations" that we continue to light the sky with in color each summer.

According to, veterans and other people with post-traumatic stress (PTS), these loud sounds and flashes of light often bring up combat memories and trigger panic attacks, or worse.

Also, according to the VA’s National Center for PTSD, about eight out of every 100 people have PTS at some point in their lives.  Everyone expects fireworks on the 4th, but it’s the unexpected fireworks that get to them. Shawn J. Gourley, Executive Director, Military with PTSD says

the days leading up and directly after, if you’re going to be setting off fireworks, if you can just give them a heads up that would be the biggest help. The big fireworks shows don’t seem to bother them as much because they know what’s coming.

If you just got to set off your own fireworks, even though it’s illegal in our state, here are a few suggestions to help minimize the effects of fireworks on veterans in your neighborhood.

  • Consider public firework displays instead of having one in your neighborhood
  • Talk to veterans in your area and find out if there are specific fireworks that are upsetting
  • Let your neighbors know when and where you’ll set off fireworks and about how long you think it will last
  • Refrain from setting fireworks off at unexpected times during the day
  • Find a location that is least likely to disturb vets and your neighbors.

49 states allow some type of legal fireworks on the Fourth of July. Our state (Massachusetts) is the only one that bans consumer fireworks. Although if the last couple of nights are any indication, our neighbors have traveled to New York & New Hampshire to purchase consumer fireworks and our local police departments can’t keep up with the calls and complaints.  I guess they should just make it legal since there is no real attempt to enforce the law.

Happy 4th of July!


More From WUPE