Source: Havok Journal
It’s the Fourth of July, a time for beer, barbeques, good old-fashioned Red, White and Blue, and signs reading “A combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks.”
When I first saw a “be courteous” sign a few years back, I hoped it was the kind of fad that would pass quickly once enough people put some actual thought into it — like pet rocks. But apparently this has turned into big business, with thousands of the signs manufactured, sold, and distributed across the U.S. I think these “be courteous” signs are a terrible idea.
The message reinforces the worst stereotypes about veterans: that we’re all broken, that we’re attention-mongers, that we think we’re different and special, and that the American people should bend to our whims simply because we served. I think that’s a bad message for us to send, and an even worse mindset for us to have.
Some point out that what with the plagues of post traumatic stress disorder and veteran suicides, reminding people that loud noises can be triggering might help. I disagree: if your PTSD is so bad that you need to live in complete quiet, you need professional help, not a yard sign.
If getting help in a timely manner is not possible, some melatonin, a cup of warm milk, and earplugs are bound to be far more useful to you than a yard sign. In fact, the sign might have the unintended consequence of encouraging MORE noisy behavior.
Fellow vets, what we did in uniform is essential work for our nation, but it doesn’t entitle us to ask for everyone around us to change. Post-traumatic stress exists, but so does post-traumatic growth. The American government owes us plenty — but not the American people.
I would no more change my lifestyle over a “veteran lives here” sign at my neighbor’s house than I would if it said “A Political Hipster Lives Here: Please Be Courteous With Trigger Words.” Like my fellow veterans, I fought for our freedoms; I’m not about to ask other Americans to give them up on my behalf.
I myself am not going to set off fireworks for a couple of reasons: 1) they’re illegal where I live; 2) they’re expensive; 3) they’re dangerous — just ask the New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul. And I wouldn’t do it late at night — not out of “courtesy” to veterans, but out of common courtesy.
If the county’s fireworks show bothers me, or if the neighborhood kids start shooting off their (illegal) bottle rockets when I’m trying to sleep, I’ll put in earplugs, turn on music, and be happy that I live in a country that still raucously celebrates freedom. I’m not going to put a sign in my yard asking people to NOT do what Americans have done every Fourth of July since before I was born.