The smell of gunpowder and bug spray… If you grew up in the US of A, then you know what I’m talking about. It brings back memories, doesn’t it? For me, it brings back plenty of memories. Every year, my dad and step-mom would take us down to the big fire-cracker (that’s what I call them) tent in the Kroger parking lot, beside the good snow-cone stand. They would give each of us $10 to buy firecrackers, and we would load up on bottle rockets, snap dragons, blooming flowers, black cat firecrackers, and many more of the little things. We would also end up with a few dollars worth of the bigger bottle rockets between the four of us, and we would sometimes get to get a snow-cone and head home. We were always a few days early on buying our firecrackers, so for the next few days, we would wait in excited anticipation for the big night, trying our best not to throw all of our snap dragons or pull all of our confetti poppers.
Then, finally the night would come. Daddy would spend the evening after supper setting up cinder blocks and old pieces of pipe in the back yard while we would anxiously watch for darkness. We were never able to wait for the sun to go down entirely, and we would end up popping the loud black cats, making black snakes grow, and letting chasers chase us around the carport. I distinctly remember one year, the chasers loved my sister Dawn. Every single one of them seemed to zero in on her like she had on a homing beacon. We all got a good laugh out of her running from the chasers.
Once it would finally start to actually get dark, out came anything colorful: the cone fountains, laying hens, spinning triangles that you had to nail to a tree trunk, and the occassional super cheap bottle rocket. By nine-thirty, it would really be dark, and we could shoot the “big” bottle rockets and other things we had left. We were often left with far more penny-bottle rockets than could be shot in a night, and those went to the cause of blasting off the face of the picture of a lawyer on the back of the phone book or blowing over-grown squash and cucumbers to smithereens over the next several days.
Once the big night was over, though, we would all head inside: Our hair, clothes, and hands smelling like gunpowder and bug spray. Tired and exhilarated. There was nothing like being a pyro-techie for a couple of hours.
Yes, the smell of gunpowder and bug spray bring back a lot of memories.
Tonight, I am a twenty-seven year old wife and mother. We didn’t have the money for any firecrackers, and we haven’t for the past several years. Besides, our baby is too little to stay up way past dark, while we shoot firecrackers that he neither cares for nor will remember. Instead, My Honey went to bed because he wasn’t feeling well, and I watched the neighbors shoot firecrackers in their yard. They had several kids out with sparklers and lighting the little cones, roman candles, and spinners, and they also had some big, pretty, booming firecrackers that they would light every few minutes. I could smell the gunpowder from the big ones, and it would take me back to all those years ago when I was a kid enjoying the Fourth of July.
As the big booms rang out and the bottle rockets whizzed into the air, I got a whole new sense of what this holiday means and just how precious this one in particular is. Do you know why we shoot firecrackers anyway? What is the reason we fire off such loud, bright gunpowder-packed rockets in the first place? I will tell you why: To remind us of the cannons and gunshots of the Revolutionary War. Those soldiers, those colonists-turned-rebels did not have happy memories attached to the smell of gunpowder. That smell probably struck them with a fear and an anxiety that we can’t even begin to imagine. Even today, there are parts of the world where the boom of a cannon and the smell of gunpowder bring people to their knees in terror.
I cannot begin to imagine what feeling must have coursed through the soul of a twenty-seven year old wife and mother in 1776 when she heard a cannon-boom or smelt gunpowder in the air; it certainly wasn’t the feeling I had while reminiscing on my childhood. It would have brought to mind images of dirty, tired militia-men facing off with England’s red-clad army in a field that had probably already soaked up too much blood. It was a feeling of fear that her house would be the next to stand in the way of a cannonball, or that the English army would torch her village as they passed to the next battlefield. It was the constant worry of whether her husband would return home whole, maimed, or even return at all. It was the haunting thought that the war would stretch on until her son was old enough to join the fight. No, gunpowder did not bring any happy memory or thought to that woman’s mind.
We are 237 years removed from when the Declaration of Independence was signed. And I have to admit to having the passing thought that this could be the final birthday for the United States. I fear that we, too, will learn how terrifying a cannon-boom and the odor of gunpowder can be. Maybe I am taking what ought to be a happy, celebratory post and turning it into a depressing announcement of doom, but it’s a thought and feeling I can’t shake and must tell.
America, for so many reasons and in so many ways, is dying more rapidly with each passing day. We have fewer days before us than we have behind us. We have angered God and are only continuing to provoke him with our sinful behavior and acceptance of such. We have politicians in office who only desire to take total control of America, and we have citizens gladly allowing them to do so. We are falling to pieces morally, ethically, politically, economically, internationally, and socially. The Constitution is nothing more than the doormat of the White House, and the Holy Bible is the mulch for the Rose Garden. We have fallen far from what the founding fathers had in mind and even farther from what God intends. We cannot sustain ourselves, and the rest of the world has less and less desire to help us do so.
Life, as we know it, in America is about to end. America, herself, is lying on her deathbed. I fear there will be war, such as most of us have never encountered. It will be on our soil and between ourselves and other countries. It will not be pretty, and I feel that we will never wish to watch a fireworks show again.
Our only hope lies in God. We must turn back to Him, whole-heartedly. We must desire to do His will, and then we must do it. We must repent of our sins, which are greater than can be numbered, and we must be willing to accept that He may still allow destruction to come to our country. This is where we stand on July the fourth, twenty-thirteen. Two-hundred and thirty-seven years ago, the beginning was at hand; today, the end. We can sit idly by and watch it all fall to waste, or we fight on our knees with our heads bowed in prayer, because that is the only way we will keep America what the militia men fought to make it.
God bless you.