Sequester Extinguishes July 4th Fireworks At Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg
It'll be a less explosive Fourth of July celebration at military bases in North Carolina this year. Two of the state's major military bases are cancelling fireworks due to budget cuts.
Fort Bragg has had a fireworks display for more than 30 years. It does them big and it does them loud.
More than 50,000 people from Fort Bragg and Fayetteville show up for the celebrations. The U.S. military lost more than 10 percent of its budget this year because of federal budget cuts and the policy known as sequestration. Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum says it's unfortunate.
"Our soldiers have been deploying from the very beginning of the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan and will be some of the last to come home," McCollum says. "So we've called on them to do a lot and now when it comes time to celebrate the nation's freedom, something they all defend, we have had to cut back on the observance here on the post."
Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base also canceled its fireworks show. Nat Fahy with Camp Lejeune says with impending furloughs, it didn't make financial sense.
"During a period in which federal employees are scheduled to be furloughed due to sequestration, expending limited funds and paying personnel overtime to manage a non-mission essential event just didn't seem a prudent use of finite government resources in [General Thomas Gorry]'s mind," Fahy says.
Fahy says the city of Jacksonville offered to cover the cost of fireworks – about $25,000. But that still left the base short $75,000 for other expenses like security, food and paying staff overtime to host 20,000 people.
Rae Griggs works at the Camp Lejeune's Naval Hospital and she says the fireworks display has been a family tradition for her children and grandchildren for more than 10 years.
"It's the best display on the East Coast," Griggs says. "But it's budget cuts everywhere."
In place of fireworks, Camp Lejeune will have more quiet Fourth of July activities like free golf and bowling. At least a few other bases around the country have canceled their fireworks celebration due to the sequester, but one that isn't is Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro.