Opinion: Want to thank me for my service? Use your “freedom” to not light off your own fireworks this Fourth of July.

Estimated read time 3 min read

For some of you, it’s time for you to stop thanking me for my service, because clearly you don’t mean it.

Would you fly the flag at home and when you take it down go inside and throw it on the floor? Of course not, that would be disrespectful.

“Thank you for your service.”

I get that a lot when people find out I’m a veteran. If they see my service dog or when they look at my ID for a discount.

It’s kind. They’re being respectful. I usually answer with “Thank you for your support.”

But then this whole “freedom” thing starts to rear its head.

On Veterans Day and Memorial Day, everyone turns into a patriot. “Go USA” and “God bless our military.”

So why does it go away on the Fourth of July? Or from the middle of June until sometime in August?

According to the VA, 29% of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan will have PTSD at some point in their lives, and those are only the ones who get diagnosed and report it to the VA.

Of the 333 million people in the U.S. in 2022, over 16 million are veterans — 5%. Walk outside your house, look at five houses to your left, five houses to your right, and the houses across the street in that same vicinity; at least one person in those 20 houses is a veteran.

Combat veterans with PTSD struggle with fireworks. Veterans with service dogs struggle, too. As do horses who are used in equine therapy.

But hey, freedom, right!?

“I live in a free country and if I want to celebrate the Fourth of July by shooting off fireworks, I have the right to.”

Yes. Yes, you do. A right made possible for you by active duty, veterans, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to give it to you.

Those of us struggling or with animals that struggle, we try to prepare for it. We can minimize the damage it does for one night. But when people start mid-June and keep going into August, that feels like a big middle finger to us.

If you mean it when you say, “Thank you for your service,” take the money you spend on fireworks and donate it to veterans support organizations.

Every municipality in America shoots off enough fireworks on the Fourth to light up a small country. Why do you need more?

If you’re someone who loves shooting off fireworks every night for weeks on end, I’m kind of done with your hypocritical, self-righteous, manipulative incongruence, BS of “Thank you for your service” because you obviously don’t mean it.

I’d just as soon you keep your mouth closed and let me get on with my day.

Michael Jenet is a veteran who served eight years in the United States Air Force including Operation Desert Storm. 

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