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Celebrate your freedom

but strive to keep it safe

The birthday of the United States of America will be officially celebrated this Friday, July 4, and the fireworks and festivities will be extended right into the post-holiday weekend.

 

We celebrate this week the 238th anniversary of the day the Continental Congress adopted the wording of a Declaration of Independence, a document that officially separated the 13 colonies from Great Britian.

 

Though the colonies had been at war with the British Empire for more than a year before it was officially signed, it was a document engrossed on animal skin that told the world of the birth of a new country — a free country where “all men are created equal.”

 

It is the brave and daring 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence who we remember this week, and especially its principal author, Thomas Jefferson. They are the Founding Fathers who put everything on the line for their hard-fought freedoms, mutually pledging to each other “our lives, our fortunes and sacred honor.”

 

With the Fourth of July celebrations come activities that require a measure of safety for everyone’s sake. It was John Adams, our second president, who suggested that Independence Day “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade . . . Bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”

 

But all people and especially parents of young children should make note that thousands of people are treated in hospital emergency departments every year for injuries associated with fireworks.

 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 8,700 fireworks-related injuries were treated in 2012 and 60% of those occurred in the month surrounding July 4th. More than half of those injuries were burns. One-fourth of the victims were under the age of 15.

 

Illegal fireworks include Roman candles, firecrackers, bottle rockets and mortars — anything that explodes or leaves the ground. They can only be purchased and used with a permit issued by a local unit of government.

 

Prevent Blindness America says both types of sparklers, even those labeled consumer fireworks, burn at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Sparklers are the second-highest cause of fireworks injuries behind firecrackers.

 

With the festive American holiday comes one of the busiest weeks of the year for the highways and waterways of Vilas, Oneida and Forest counties. We will have more residents and more vacationers here than at any other point in 2014.

 

Safety begins with vehicle and boat operators who are sober. It continues with boaters who know the law — regarding mandatory no-wake areas, intoxicated driving, waterskiing hours, special rules for personal watercraft, spotter requirements for skiing, etc.

 

The North Woods needs more boaters and motorists who are willing to show respect for others, leading by example by being patient and courteous. Be the one who lets someone else go first. Remember our visitors aren’t as familiar with the area as residents.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

 

Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014 10:44 AM
 

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