I received a wake-up call recently while on a walk through my neighborhood.

One of my neighbors had a sign in the front yard that read, “A combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with your fireworks.”

What a simple, yet profound request. I love a good Fourth of July fireworks show as much as the next person, but this made me stop and take stock of what Independence Day is really about and what is truly important.

Needless to say, my family and I will not be doing any fireworks this year. But, more to the point, this one brave veteran has made a request that I am confident many others would repeat: Please have respect for the sacrifice made to keep this great nation free, and allow all to celebrate our independence without fear of a PTSD episode.

It is a simple thing that honors those who volunteered to serve — who wrote a blank check, up to and including their very lives — to protect our nation from all enemies. And all that is asked is something I had never considered, but wish I had.

Let’s not celebrate with fireworks that can cause distress to these heroes living among us. Let’s celebrate quietly and respectfully in our homes and neighborhoods, and go to organized fireworks displays this year. Let our wounded warriors celebrate with us, without the shadows of their service haunting them in their homes.

For those who may have forgotten what Independence Day is all about, I would remind you that freedom is not free, and we live in a different world now.

Elizabeth Cohen

Greenfield Place

Hanahan