CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Some Heartland veterans are calling for courtesy this holiday weekend. For many of them, the sound of fireworks is a blast from a brutal past.
"Unless you've been on the receiving end of a rifle fire, artillery fire, mortar fire, rockets, just remember, those guys heard that every day," Marine Veteran Bill McHughs said.
McHughs suggests talking with neighbors before you light some of those big booms. He said for many who fought for our freedom, fireworks are too much like the sound of war.
"It was pure hell. Pure hell," McHughs said.
He served in the Vietnam War.
"We walked right into a, what they call a U shaped ambush. You know, fighters on each side and the front," McHughs said.
McHughs fought for our country with pride, but it's the annual celebration that takes him back to that battlefield.
"I hate fireworks," McHughs said.
He was wounded, twice, earning him two purple hearts.
"The biggest thing I guess you could say is I can look at them and say, 'Well, at least I wasn't a coward,'" McHughs said.
McHughs said 16 of the brave men who fought with him, weren't so lucky.
"Do you ever wonder how you weren't one of them?" we asked.
"Oh I can answer that. That's a no brainer. God," McHughs said.
While this veteran said he wouldn't trade his time in the service for anything, he had experiences he'd rather not relive.
"When they start firing them around town, I just get the total shakes and get flashbacks and that was 45 years ago. You will never get over it," McHughs said.
McHughs isn't alone. A local psychologist who works with veterans with PTSD said the Fourth of July, while patriotic for many of us, is a very anxiety provoking time for many veterans.
"It brings back so much memory," McHughs said.
That's why veterans not only locally, but nationwide are asking for courtesy. Some have even posted signs in their front lawns that read "Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks."
"If they know a veteran lives in the area, I'd say within a half a block, maybe move out a little ways," McHughs said.
It's all about doing our part to help everyone, including our heroes, celebrate our nation's independence peacefully.
Heartland sign shop owners say they haven't made any signs about veterans and fireworks like these, they'd love to. The owners say, just give them a call.