It was like most July 4th celebrations. I was invited to a friend’s house where great food, a handful of friendly folks and some home style fireworks were in order.

Heavy rain pounded the Space Coast as I left the house for the short drive to West Melbourne. Streets all over had a lot of standing water as the drainage system was overwhelmed. At a couple of places on Eau Gallie Boulevard the water was surprisingly deep and drivers were perplexed as to how to proceed. Delays were short, though, and I arrived on time.

After meeting those I that I didn’t know already, my friend and I retired to his office and caught up with events of the last few weeks and then moved on to his final preparation of the ribs.

As you might expect, the food was amazing and the conversation was lively.  The rain subsided and folks began wandering outside as darkness was thinking about falling. Some neighbors were pushing the fireworks envelope and the scattered booms were echoing through the community.

My friend and I found ourselves in front of his house as a neighbor had arrived home. The two of them spoke and exchanged a little small talk as my friend closed the conversation with, Happy 4th! It was a typical wish for the day and a simple, “you, too,” would have sufficed. But I was surprised at the response.

The words, “I don’t celebrate it,” gave me pause. My friend replied for the neighbor to have a pleasant 4th anyway and our conversation continued. It was initially about the “not celebrating” comment and the neighbor’s history.

Apparently he had separated from military service, near retirement and under other than honorable conditions due to his own actions. His obvious bitterness and willingness to share it with the world was of his own doing. Still enjoying the blessings of this nation (this is a nice neighborhood), somehow his attitude would not allow for even that acknowledgement on this day of celebration.

As we proceeded to join the neighborhood in what seemed like a competitive fireworks display, it was clear the one neighbor was pretty much on his own in not participating in the celebration. The sky began to light up as all around the booms and sparkles rained down from above.

That is with one notable exception. One box of multiple, continually firing pyrotechnics had turned on its side and the projectiles fired at those of us standing back near the house.  In hindsight the scary moment was funny. As it happened, everyone experienced an “oh, crap” moment.

We all scrambled, no one was injured and no serious damage was done. We had a good laugh and the celebration continued. Fortunately, what could have been a tragic moment (those stories were out early this weekend) is just another tale to tell in the 244 year history of this great nation...whether all of our neighbors appreciate and celebrate it or not.

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