COVID-19 may have not allowed Fort Hood’s Independence Day celebration to play out how it does traditionally, but it didn’t completely stop the celebration.
Cars parked all around post and along I-14, staying spaced apart, to watch Fort Hood’s 4th of July fireworks display.
Spc. Tyler Robinson, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cav. Division, and his wife Haley made it to Hood Stadium’s parking lot early to celebrate Independence Day.
“We haven’t been out of the house since we’ve had our daughter. You can’t stay in the house, you have to get out at some point,” Haley said. Tyler agreed, adding that it builds morale being able to come out and watch the fireworks in person.
Fort Hood’s firework display, which is put on by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation, has created a reputation for itself as being the biggest display in Central Texas. Dr. Peter Craig, director of Fort Hood’s DFMWR, believes it’s the biggest display because of the amount of viewers.
“We draw people from all the communities all the way from Lampasas, all the way over to Temple or Belton potentially coming over this way. It’s a big celebration, typically 10,000 to 15,000 people (are) on post for the 4th of July, but when you’re doing fireworks that does not include the probably 10,000 to 20,000 people that might be outside post watching across the highway or a quarter-mile (or) half-mile away,” Craig said. “From where it’s shot from, it’s kind of elevated so you can really see it from probably three to five miles away. It might be the biggest because it’s the biggest option to see it. This year is kind of special because a lot of other people are cancelling theirs.”
Craig believes that the fireworks allowed people to relieve some stress with everything that’s been going on in the world.
“I think it’s an opportunity for everyone to kind of escape – escape daily life. With fireworks, you watch them and you know what’s going to happen, (yet) it’s kind of uncertain. You’re not sure what it’s going to look like when it does explode. It’s kind of a nerve-wracking thing … every single firework is unique … but I think people use it as a chance to escape what’s going on. Everyone can look up and say, ‘Oh, wow,’ and that’s when you see the relief of the ‘oohs’ and the ‘ahhs’ after they explode – it’s like a sense of relief like, ‘Oh, that was really pretty.’
Craig added, “It puts you in a different place, a different mindset. We’re in a place where we’ve all kind of been forced to social distance and have been retreating to our houses. It’s an opportunity, even though we can’t physically be together, it’s an opportunity for everyone to rally around something that they know is comfortable and reassuring.”
Craig believes it was important to celebrate Independence Day and was happy to still have the firework display despite the pandemic.
“It’s tradition. People rally around tradition. People in the community have the expectation that there’s going to be fireworks. It’s one of the few things everyone in the United States can rally around is the U.S.’s independence, it’s Independence Day,” Craig said. “We can’t forget our independence. Sometimes we take our independence for granted … but this the one time of the year we can stop and remember independence and fireworks are a trigger for us to remember the independence that they fought for 244 years ago.”