July 3rd, 2011
03:09 PM ET

Letters to the President: #895 “Fireworks”

Reporter's Note: President Obama has to be a pretty responsible citizen. The rest of us? Well, I suppose it is kind of optional.

Dear Mr. President,

I was watching that annual demonstration of fireworks danger on video the other day; you know, the one where they usually blow up a watermelon or a mannequin with firecrackers to show how dangerous they are? And it occurred to me that there is a basic flaw in this display. Because every year when I see it, the first thought I have is: Wow, wouldn’t it be fun to do that!

Usually I try to be a level headed fellow, but I have to admit, I love fireworks and I love places where normal people can set them off. And I hate laws against them.

Yes, I know that they can hurt people and I know that plenty of very well meaning folks have raised alarms about the dangers of fireworks, especially around children. I respect their point of view. I just don’t share it. I love the sizzle of the fuses, the swoosh of the rockets, and the skull rattling clatter of a big string of firecrackers lighting up the night. I love the smell of the burnt powder filling the air and the blue smoke trailing out over a twilight field.

Maybe it is easy for me to enjoy because my parents taught all of us kids to be very careful with such things. We were not allowed to touch them when we were too small, and as we became old enough to play along on the Fourth, we were held to high standards of safe behavior. Perhaps you would not have noticed as a casual observer as we set off outrageous amounts of fireworks around my folks’ house, but my father and mother were steadily keeping on eye on the apparent chaos, and even a slight infraction in the safety rules brought a sharp and unmistakable correction. And through years of celebrations involving the most aggressive fireworks any private citizen can possess, no one was ever hurt.

You know what I would say to people? The same thing we say about power tools, rat poison, swimming pools, cars, alcohol and so much more - in the wrong hands, or handled improperly, these things can be very dangerous. Of course they can not be allowed in the hands of children, or drunk people, or idiots who don’t know how to use them safely. But good heavens, I would say the same of karaoke machines!

With the proper care, however, fireworks are simply part of life - a great, explosive, thrilling, beautiful and highly enjoyable part of any great celebration.

That said they are illegal in my neighborhood, and being a law abiding type I don’t light any here. So…can I come over? I mean, as president couldn’t you sign something to let you and I blast some off on the White House lawn? Let me know.

OH, and don’t miss my latest special STORIES: REPORTER tonight on CNN at 7:30pm. You’ll like it!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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