Fireworks and patriotism

To the editor:
Fireworks may seem like an
American tradition, especially on the
Fourth of July, but the earliest forms of
pyrotechnics can be traced to around
2,000 years ago to China.
During the Han Dynasty in 200 B.C.
people roasted bamboo stalks until
they turned black and sizzled, and the
air inside the hollow stalks exploded.
Between 600 A.D. and 900 A.D.,
Chinese alchemists filled bamboo
shoots with gunpowder made from
saltpeter (potassium nitrate, sulfur and
carbon acquired from charcoal) and
threw them into a fir pit. Steel dust or
cast-iron shavings were added to make
them sparkle. These firecrackers were
often used during New Year’s Festivals
and weddings to scare off evil spirits.
As gunpowder spread to the West, so
did fireworks.
They became an official part of
celebrations, and it’s no surprise
fireworks were used to celebrate
America’s Independence Day. John
Adams said he hoped the anniversary
would be marked for years to come by
“guns,” “bonfires,” and “illuminations.”
Today pyrotechnic shows on the
Fourth of July are a well-established
tradition, both near and far.
Locally, a bevy of local donors
supplied the Village of Constantine
with yet another wonderful pyrotechnic
display on the 4th of July. Donors like
A-1 Towing (Steve’s Auto Parts),
American Legion Post 223, Banks
Hardware, Blum Accounting, Byler
Electric, Chuck’s Body Shop,
Constantine Brewery, Constantine
Laundry Mat, Constantine Rotary,
Eley Funeral Home, Elke’s, Fibre
Converter’s, Greg Hoover State Farm,
Guaranteed Muffler, Michigan Milk
Producers, Monsanto, New Designs
On, Noecker-Sullivan
Insurance, Norman & Paulsen, Ox
Paper Board, Pioneer, Red Shed
Service Center, Rentfrow Tax &
Accounting, Retro Enterprises,
Schroer Chiropractic, Shear Style, Cut-
Right Lawn Care, Southern Michigan
Bank, Town Fryer Restaurant, Vaupell
Midwest Molding, Vetter-McGill
Chevrolet, W.E. English Insurance,
Patricia Weiss, Whispering Pines
Mobile Home Park, St. Joseph Valley
Golf Club, Meek’s Mill Garden Club, as
well as proceeds from 4K Walk/Runsponsored
by Mike and Kathy Messner
made such a celebration possible.
In conclusion, I like a quote by Erma
Bombeck: “You have to love a nation
that celebrates its independence every
July 4 not with a parade of guns, tanks,
and soldiers who file by the White
House in a show of strength and
muscle, but with family picnics where
kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad
gets iffy, and flies die from happiness.
You may think you’ve overeaten, but
it’s patriotism.”
Angie Birdsall

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