The local volunteer firefighters again invited me to do the blessing for their safety just before heading off into the field to light up the darkness. We thank the Lord, Saint Michael and Angel Guardians that it all went well.
Meanwhile the families of the firefighters and firefighters in training and EMTs and police and police in training were at the minimum distance away. There was gunpowder bits and firework rubbish falling on us, and the occasional bit of still fiery firework would fall in the grass right in front of us (but not on or behind us).
Meanwhile my dad, George Byers, Jr., getting shot down in North Korea while Squadron leader for the Corsair Checkerboarders, came to mind. Having anti-aircraft fire (DShKM) take out your engine, covering your windows with engine oil isn’t a great experience. He did survive, of course (I’m here!). He crashed it on a beach in between the cliffs jutting out into the ocean. I once did the google earth thing and I think I found just where it happened. He said a ground force of his own USMCs came and picked him up. But I’m sure that that kind of thing stays with you, a bit of PTSD. It happens. Nothing you can do about it. PTSD doesn’t say you’re weak. It says that you’ve been willing to lay your life down in service of your fellow man, which also includes the North Koreans. I mean, he wrote poetry about the peasants in their rice fields, flying just over their heads on the way to take out a munitions train or rail bridge used for military purposes. He had the utmost respect for these people, and his being of service for them would make him write diary entries of his own dreams for political life in these USA. The USMC at Andrews in Washington would put him through Georgetown law school to start him on his way while he continued training the guys how to fly.
Meanwhile I am reminded of John Adams’ words about illuminations (=fireworks, which were invented, by the way, in the 7th Century AD):
[This day] of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
Meanwhile we thank our military for protecting the Constitution of these USA and the free exercise of religion which we enjoy. The solemn acts of devotion include public acts of prayer, including, of course, Holy Mass, when the Word of the Father became incarnate and we saw the glory of God, the light shining in the darkness. The “illuminations” recall not only the violence of the battle on the ground or in the sky, but also the illumination, if you will, of the glory of God who, Incarnate, dies on the Cross for us in the most ferocious battle of the most ferocious war. All that went into the prayer just before the “illuminations” began. A wonderful, memorable evening. I just love being a priest.