Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

Setting aside, for now, the complicated origin story, I love the Fourth of July.

Cookouts, watermelon, lawn games, swimming holes and a nighttime filled with explosions of color as an entire field of people chorus “ooh” and “ahh” in unison.

In the mental scrapbook of my mind, one year stands out particularly. I was about 9 or 10 and my big sister, Edna, drove me, my friend Amanda, and our blissfully unflappable shorthaired collie, Druidh, to the fireworks a few towns over.

The display was amazing, but as we stood to fold our blanket and go home (oh, those carefree pre-Lyme disease summers) my sister exclaimed, “Oh no! I’ve lost the keys!” Pre-Lyme, but also pre-cellphone. No way to call home, no flashlight. We did our best, but it did not take long to realize we weren’t finding those keys that night.

We did the only thing we could think to do: We pleaded our case to the two sweet police officers who had been parked at the edge of the field to make sure everyone was OK and nothing got too out of hand. Their faces, as they realized that they needed to figure out how to get two kids, one sort of grown-up and one dog home.

We met many officers that night as we leapfrogged from one cruiser to the next at each town line. As I recall, they were all mostly amused. Our incredibly well behaved but clearly “disgusted with us” dog gave them a chuckle for sure.


There have been other memorable Fourths.

I spent many a Fourth sitting in the bed of the pickup, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes while watching the fireworks over the bay; or the year in Bar Harbor when one went off kind of low and we saw the workers all leap off the barge and start swimming, moments before the whole thing went up. Eastport does a phenomenal show well worth the drive.

I love a good fireworks display. And yet, I am willing to give them up, or at least change how they work.

Every year there are more and more stories of terrified dogs, horses frightened literally to death and veterans whose PTSD is violently triggered by the sounds and smells. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has an entire publication about how to help veterans cope.

Nothing is worth all that.

Luckily, lots of folks out there are way ahead of me on this. Many cities have recently switched to silent fireworks. They offer all the visual “wow” but without the loud boom. I say yes to this. The trend is becoming so popular, even some fireworks retailers are now selling them for home use.


Which, while we are on the topic – really?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “between 2006 and 2021, injuries with fireworks climbed 25% in the U.S. … at least nine people died, and an estimated 11,500 were injured in incidents involving fireworks.”

The National Fire Protection Association adds, “Fireworks started an estimated 12,264 fires in 2021, including 2,082 structure fires, 316 vehicle fires and 9,866 outside and other fires … (causing) $59 million in direct property damage.”

What’s more, unlike a municipal display where people are aware of the time and location and can make choices to attend or not, a backyard display is often an unavoidable surprise to the neighbors. OK, that might be a fully personal note from me on behalf of my own horses who were whipped into a terror last year, but I am not alone.

This holiday should be fun. It should be relaxed, and it should not traumatize our pets or our veterans. So, what say we leave it to the pros and urge those pros to use low-volume pyrotechnics? Bring on the pretty colors.

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