Our country celebrated its 235th birthday on Monday. Many communities ended the day with a fireworks display.
Piqua was typical, I suppose, of cities across America. A day-long festival in Fountain Park was followed by the annual fireworks display at Hardman Field, at the northern-most end of Fountain Park.
There were many good things about Piqua’s celebration. The route toward the park, along Nicklin Avenue, was lined with United States flags, thanks to local realtor Kathy Henne and a few area residents.
Sadly, at least in my eyes, the day America celebrated her birthday was an embarrassing one for many residents of Piqua.
Here are just a few examples:
Soon after my arrival at Fountain Park on Monday evening, my second trip of the day to document the day’s events, I set up my camera next to the trunk of a large tree. (This was done in order to least impede the vision of those behind me.) The time was about 8:30 p.m. The large crowd was growing larger by the minute as the 10:00 p.m. start-time approached.
The first thing that caught my attention was a lady chatting with another lady about her relationship with some guy. It is not like I was trying to eves drop. She was speaking so loudly that I, maybe 30 feet away, and many others, could clearly hear her every word. Her mouth was as foul as the proverbial sailor, the “f-word” spouted loudly in about every other sentence. Meanwhile, small children were sitting nearby with their parents.
Others gathered around the area. A group of men, probably in their late ‘20s or early 30s, showed up on bicycles. They proceeded to drop their bikes in a heap in the middle of the park before walking to a group of friends. Several children nearly tripped over the bikes, left thoughtlessly in the middle of the park, as the sky darkened over the area.
At the conclusion of the fireworks show, viewers quickly gathered their belongings and headed for home. It took me a few minutes to take down my tripod and pack equipment. As I gazed through the haze left by fireworks, sparklers and thousands of cigarettes I noted hundreds, yes hundreds, of empty cans, bottles and other assorted items left littering the park.
I was struck by the contrast of where I was one week ago, in northern Michigan, where it seems that no one dares to litter, partly because it is the law, but mostly because of personal pride.
One week later, at the place I call home, I see the disgusting and vile evidence of people who have no pride in themselves or the community in which they live. Most importantly, they have no respect for others.
Add to this, the dozens of calls that the police department responded to in the wake of the fireworks, including people dancing in the streets and deliberately blocking traffic to reports of people throwing fireworks at cars.
Piqua has struggled for years to overcome a reputation as a community that may be less-than-desirable in many aspects. Don’t get me wrong, I love Piqua and know of the many great things the city has to offer.
It seems, though, that what I, and many others, witnessed on Monday, is like an anchor around the neck of attempts to promote Piqua.
Pride in one’s community begins at home. If you don’t have respect and pride in yourself, how can you expect your community to look any better?
And for those who look at this and say, “I don’t give a @#*% what others think of me,” I respond, lack of respect for our fellow citizens is one of the many things wrong with America.
You cannot; however, respect those around you, until you learn to truly respect the person you see when you look in the mirror.