Local veteran talks about the impact of fireworks on PTSD and local fireworks ordinances

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – With the 4th of July quickly approaching, you may have already heard and seen fireworks in the area.

If you have already purchased some and plan to set them off, city regulations, veterans, your pets and small children ask you to please wait until the designated dates and times to do so.

After fireworks were legalized in the state a decade ago, the city passed an ordinance allowing the sale and purchase of fireworks with the condition that the celebratory explosives only be used June 27 through July 5 from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. except the fourth which extends until 11 p.m.

While most veterans enjoy celebrating the holiday with fireworks as well, the loud pops and explosions can sound similar to combat and can trigger PTSD in vets.

“It will put you back into combat and of course, you fall back on your training and you may see a veteran hit the ground when he hears a shot like that trying to protect himself. It’s just, it’s really traumatizing to some points,” said Malcom Cherry, the president of the American Legion in Bowling Green and a Marine veteran.

Cherry has suffered from PTSD in his past.

“Just to be frank with you, I could have killed my wife one night and I didn’t even realize I was doing it,” said Cherry.

During a nightmare, he woke up on top of his wife and realized he was not in the battlefield.

While that incident didn’t occur following fireworks, it is an example of PTSD.

And Cherry says, fireworks are very startling.

“I am jumpy and I look and I say, ‘What’s that’ and then in a couple of seconds I say, ‘Oh. That was fireworks.’ But you know, when we was in country, when we was in Vietnam, I mean you would hear, cannons, not cannons, I mean, mortars and rockets going off maybe a mile or two away,”

Cherry says for veterans, having a set time frame for fireworks helps them prepare for the loud pops and bangs.

Melinda Hill, a Bowling Green City Commissioner says she hopes people follow the ordinance and are respectful to one another.

“We’ve put these timelines in and we hope people will abide by them and allow all of us to have a happy Fourth of July,” she said.

Not only is it considered by many to be discourteous to shoot fireworks outside of those dates and times, but it is also against the law as well and violators can be fined.

It is also against the law for those under 18 to shoot off fireworks.