The National Park Service (NPS) has denied a request from the state of South Dakota to hold a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore to celebrate the Fourth of July this year.
NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost wrote in a letter to the head of the state’s tourism department that NPS is “unable to grant a request to have fireworks at the Memorial.”
“Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event,” Frost wrote. “In addition, the park’s many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial.”
“These factors, compiled with the COVID-19 pandemic, do not allow a safe and responsible fireworks display to be held at this site,” he added [Rachel Frazin, “National Park Service Rejects Request for July 4 Fireworks at Mount Rushmore,” The Hill, 2021.03.12].
Now, sure, the Black Hills National Forest didn’t burn down after last year’s Trump/Noem hatefest at the monument, but using last year’s event as a reason to risk mass conflagration again is like Jason Ravnsborg saying, “Heck, I drove up to Redfield with my eyes glued to my phone and didn’t kill anyone, so nothing bad will happen if I drive distracted all the way home to Pierre.”
But we love our bang-bangs, so our Congressional delegation is already whining, attacking the decision with an incorrect reading of President Joe Biden’s speech to the nation Thursday:
Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds along with Representative Dusty Johnson are also commenting on the cancellation, issuing a joint statement that reads:
“Let’s be clear, this decision is political, not evidence-based, President Biden just said himself that Americans can safely gather by July 4 – What’s changed in a day? Last year millions watched the celebration in awe, and it’s a shame the administration is denying Americans that opportunity this year” [Kevin Gonzalez, “Fireworks Not Allowed at Mount Rushmore for 4th of July,” KSFY-TV, 2021.03.12].
John, Mike, Dusty, shame on you—in his national address Thursday, President Biden did not say we can safely hold a giant fireworks shindig at Mount Rushmore on July 4. He actually said the opposite:
I need you to get vaccinated when it’s your turn and when you can find an opportunity, and to help your family and friends and neighbors get vaccinated as well.
Because here’s the point: If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbeque and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together [President Joe Biden, speech to the nation, White House transcript, 2021.03.11].
President Biden set a goal of mass vaccination to make small Fourth of July family gatherings reasonably safe. And even that modest goal depends on working together and remaining pre-cautious:
After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.
But to get there, we can’t let our guard down.
This fight is far from order — from over. As I told the woman in Pennsylvania, “I will tell you the truth.”
A July 4th with your loved ones is the goal. But a goal — a lot can happen; conditions can change.
The scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread.
And we’ve got work to do to ensure everyone has confidence in the safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines.
So my message to you is this: Listen to Dr. Fauci, one of the most distinguished and trusted voices in the world. He has assured us the vaccines are safe. They underwent rigorous scientific review. I know they’re safe. Vice President Harris and I know they’re safe. That’s why we got the vaccine publicly in front of cameras so — for the world to see, so you could see us do it. The First Lady and the Second Gentleman also got vaccinated.
Talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors — the people you know best who’ve gotten the vaccine.
We need everyone to get vaccinated. We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced, and keep wearing the masks as recommended by the CDC.
Because even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity [President Biden, 2021.03.11].
John, Mike, Dusty, if you’re going to try using the President’s words against him, you need to start by using the President’s actual words.
Mass gatherings for the Fourth of July are still a bad idea. Lighting fires and toxic explosives in the Black Hills National Forest in July is still a bad idea. Besides, who wants to spend America’s best holiday standing in line for hours, being searched by the Secret Service, buying overpriced concessions, and listening to another boring speech from Kristi Noem? Instead of making the Fourth of July a political cult-of-personality fest, celebrate America by doing your patriotic duty, getting your shots, getting your family and friends to all get their shots, and then getting together in your backyard for hot dogs and sparklers.