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Fireworks Furlough


Claim:   President Obama has canceled July 4 celebrations at U.S. military bases to save money.

MIXTURE

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2013]

Supposedly the president has cancelled 4th of July celebrations for the troops on military bases to save money.
 

Origins:   This item about President Obama's having cancelled Independence Day celebrations at U.S. military bases scheduled for 4 July 2013 began circulating a few days before that holiday. It is true that some of the U.S. military bases which typically stage larger July 4 shows have cut back or canceled their 4th of July celebrations, but those bases individually chose to do so due to budgetary constraints, not because President Obama directed all U.S. bases to skip celebrating Independence Day this year to "save money."

The mandatory $85 billion budget cut imposed by sequestration as of March 2013 — an outcome for which Congress and the President share some measure of blame due to their inability to resolve deficit reduction issues — has affected many federal departments, including the military. Therefore, some U.S. military bases have had to make the choice of scrapping annual fireworks shows (which can cost upwards of $100,000) or other Independence Day events in order to allocate funds to more vital areas:
The Fourth of July won't have a patriotic boom in the sky over some military bases because budget cuts and furloughed workers also mean furloughed fireworks.

Independence Day celebrations have been canceled at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base and at the Army's Fort Bragg, both in North Carolina. The annual July Fourth celebration also has been scrapped at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Ga.

The reason is money — namely the lack of it.

The failure in Washington to follow up a 2011 budget pact with additional spending cuts meant $85 billion across-the-board cuts that began
in March. Budgets tightened, the military took a major hit and many federal workers absorbed pay cuts through forced furloughs.

When the decision was made to forgo fireworks at Camp Lejeune, the commanding general, Brig. Gen. Thomas Gorry, said the cancellation would "ensure that we can mitigate the fiscal challenges we are currently facing."

Last year's Independence Day at the base cost about $100,000, including $25,000 for the fireworks. The big issue is paying the overtime to personnel for security, transportation, logistics and safety. Base officials said they couldn't justify paying overtime when federal workers are losing pay while furloughed.

Marines and their families at Lejeune will instead be able to participate in some free activities — golf, bowling, skeet shooting, archery and movies.

Other bases that are canceling ceremonies to mark the nation's birthday:

  • Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, where the annual Jammin' July 4th put on by the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw and local city and county officials has been scrapped. The base plans a smaller "freedom bash" on July 3 with pool games, face painting and bouncy castles.
  • The Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, which is scaling back by canceling the fireworks and instead hosting a daytime celebration featuring the Pacific Fleet Band and the Air Force Band of the Pacific.
  • New Jersey's Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
  • Last updated:   2 July 2013

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    Sources:

        Chumley, Cheryl K.     "Fourth of July Fireworks Shuttered at Key Military Bases."
        The Washington Times.   1 July 2013.

        Kerr, Jennifer C.     "A Fourth of July with No Fireworks for Some Military Bases."
        The Washington Post.   1 July 2013.