Firing it up!

 “The Times They Are a Changing” (Bob Dylan)–just one of the many protest or patriotic songs drummed up during the Sixties in response to the Vietnam War. Though times indeed have changed, we Americans salute our country’s 241st birthday, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Just whether or not you can legally toss a “salute” in celebration depends on state laws governing the use of trippin’ on psychedelic consumer fireworks.

Growing up during the Sixties, my family’s celebration of the Fourth involved the tradition of my father firing up the grill by liberally squirting lighter fluid over charcoal briquettes before tossing in a lighted match. When the pyrotechnic flames settled, he proceeded to barbecue our burgers and hot dogs to charred perfection. When it grew dark enough, my sister and I ran around the yard with sparklers as though they were magic wands eliciting shooting stars.

Dylan’s “changing times” in 1964 led a parade of other patriotic and/or protest songs in an explosive era:

“Mr. Lonely” (1964, Bobby Vinton)

“Eve of Destruction” (1965, Barry McGuire)

“Coming Home Soldier” (1966, Bobby Vinton)

“Universal Soldier” (1966, Buffy Sainte-Marie)

“Ballad of the Green Berets” (1966, Sergeant Barry Sadler)

“Give Peace a Chance” (1969, John Lennon)

Though freedom of fireworks may have fizzled in the here and now, there are concerts, parades with firework finales, and professional firework displays to bedazzle. Since it was established in 1785, Rhode Island’s Bristol Annual Fourth of July Parade has grown each year to become one of the longest July 4th parades in the country with over ten divisions consisting of marching bands, floats, and performers.

If these festivities aren’t bang enough, you can always watch “Nathan’s Famous 4th of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest” on television. You can bet your buns, champion and contestants alike are sure to emit some unabashed explosive belches.

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