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Just Sayin’: For a vet, fireworks spur combat flashbacks

Firecrackers can trigger post-traumatic stress.

Firecrackers can trigger post-traumatic stress. Credit: Getty Images/iStock

For 25 years, every summer before Independence Day, I have driven six hours to the Adirondacks to avoid the sounds of fireworks on Long Island.

I served in the Marines in Vietnam. Nothing brings about flashbacks faster than the sound of firecrackers and mortars. This is tantamount to having someone who was raped having to watch the video of their horror over and over.

No one pays for my gas, tolls and other expenses for me to maintain my sanity. Even after I return to Long Island, the incessant noise continues for weeks. Fireworks are a slap in the face to every combat veteran I’ve ever known.

I wish local officials would take action to stop fireworks all year and help veterans like me. Try enforcement and education, and make a few examples by penalizing offenders with six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. Run public service annoucements and provide school training.

While I’m at it, may I mention that strobe lights on red-light cameras do a fantastic imitation of a muzzle flash? They cause me to attempt evasive action before I realize what has happened.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is dead serious.

Jim “Zak” Szakmary,


A kind stranger saved a snowbound family

What started out as an anticipated three-hour drive from Long Island to Pennsylvania to visit a water park in March turned into an experience we will never forget.

Forecasts warned of a nor’easter, but we felt confident we could avoid it by leaving early. On our drive we began to encounter heavy rain, then sleet and snow. Conditions deteriorated, and at one point traffic on Route 80 didn’t move for 55 minutes.

In Pennsylvania, the highway was closed, and we had to use secondary roads. In a rural area, our vehicle became stuck. Other cars were stuck, too. A nearby homeowner offered us a shovel and the use of her land-line phone. When we still could not free the car, the woman invited all six of us, three adults and three children, inside. Even though she had just lost power, she provided food and drinks heated on her propane-fueled stove. We spent the night, and she gave us all heavy quilts to make our stay in her living room comfortable.

Her offer to take us in renewed our faith in the kindness of strangers. Though we never made it to our destination, we did meet with her again at a local diner on a trip to the water park in April.

We will always remember this act of kindness.

Tony and Rosalie Tascarella,Lake Ronkonkoma