This is an archived article that was published on in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

OK, wait. That came out wrong. I do care if you like fireworks. Honestly, I like them, too. They're pretty, they're surprising and they give me seriously sweet nostalgia.

I loved everything from sparklers to the massive symphony and fireworks show at Weber State each summer as a kiddo. I have especially fond memories of The Man of 1,000 Safety Tips (my dad) teaching us about lighting and extinguishing techniques before handing over the extended-tip lighter.

And, perhaps the thing I like most is that they're our traditional way of celebrating the birth of American independence, which is, inarguably, a big deal.

So, let it go down in history that I am a fan of fireworks.

But, friends, they're also kind of the worst.

This desert we live in is pretty much a tinder box. Our wonderful neighborhoods are surrounded by thirsty earth that's begging to burn. You know what's not great for the value of your home? If it burns down. And, as our lungs clear from the Brian Head fire's smokey invasion, we know big blazes aren't awesome for our health either.

Speaking of which, did you catch the story last week by my colleague Emma Penrod? She reported on the air quality after the first weekend of firework fun when particulate levels were at times so high in Salt Lake County, they would have been classified as "purple" if they lasted longer. You guys, we're talking about being one step away from "hazardous" air quality just because we want to see our name spelled in a sparkly light tracer. We're ridiculous.

Many of our four-legged friends don't share our enthusiasm for these fire-throttled noise-making light shows. My brother-in-law saw anxiety-reducing doggie outfits at the hardware store yesterday that were embellished with prints of the American flag. What's patriotic about terrorizing dogs? All they do is love us and we make them think they're being hunted for an entire month of the year.

You know what really gets my goat about fireworks, though? It's that some of the people who've given the most to preserve our legacy of freedom are haunted by these colorful packets of dynamite we use to celebrate it. My dear friend was an Army medic in Afghanistan and battles post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. The ever-present explosions on July evenings are not at all the thanks we owe veterans. While they fight for our right to play with pyrotechnics, we don't always have to exercise it, right?

I get that this might be annoying because this land is your land ('Merica!), but this land is also my land; it was made for you AND me (and our pets and veterans, and the people who want to go bed before you're done celebrating). So, regardless of how much we might love fireworks, I think it's time we find new ways of celebrating the Fourth and 24th of July.

Perhaps the most patriotic thing to do would be to celebrate our independence by helping those who are less so — that could be anyone from less mobile elderly to refugees. So, let's put down our lighters and instead ignite our compassion (and our BBQs). I think that's the real American spirit.

Marina Gomberg's lifestyle columns appear on She is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at