Every year I head for the Greenbrae shopping center parking lot to watch the fireworks. Usually everyone is milling around waiting for the spectacular while playing with their children or just sitting on the hood of their cars. This year was no different, except for the man parked next to me. He recognized me, got out of his car with folding-chair in hand and came over to talk. He was opinionated, angry with our politics, hated war and changed his political party affiliation. He talked for almost half an hour before I could get a word in edgewise.
He has always been a staunch republican. Voting for both Bushs, contributing to the party and volunteering for door-to-door campaigning for republican candidates. The war in Iraq changed all of that. Now, thanks to G.W. Bush, he supports the independent political philosophy. Still, to this day, his eyes fill with tears when he thinks of his only child killed in our war against Iraq. He doesn’t blame the Muslims, Saddam Hussein or the Iraqi people. He blames G.W. Bush and the republican party.
He had a great relationship with his son. As outdoorsmen, fishermen, hunters, hikers and sports enthusiasts, he and his son had become best friends. But at the age of 24, adventure and “duty to country” called. His wife blamed him, claiming he encouraged their son to join. A claim he denies.
As a marksman, his son had the privilege of joining the sniper team. Snipers operate alone, keep close visual contact with the enemy and shoot the enemy from a distant concealed position. They operate independently without backup and act as lookouts. They are not treated mercifully if captured. Rationale being, ordinary soldiers can see and shoot at each other at equal distances. While shooting from the backyard of a residential building, his son was caught and killed. Six months later, his wife divorced him.
As the fireworks started, their bombardment in the symbolic hue of a red glare, he returned to his car and thanked me for listening to his anger, frustration, disappointment and dislike aimed at the Republican Party. I told him he was preaching to the choir. He said, “I know.”
Independence Day should remind republicans that our individual freedom allows us to marry anyone we choose, have children without government interference and determine our own individual health care needs. They seem to think their collective freedom allows them to purchase guns without sufficient background checks, subject children to mass murderers with assault weapons, amend the Constitution with their religious beliefs and determine the health care needs of women.
Maybe, our freedom liberty and independence would be better preserved if we had more sanitized republicans around.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.