As we enjoy the July 4th fireworks this year, think about what it took to provide the show. In 2016, more than 268 million pounds of fireworks were consumed in the U.S., according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

Fireworks are fueled with black powder and use various metals to create the special effects and vivid colors. Potassium nitrate (aka saltpeter) comprises 75 percent of black powder and is primarily mined in Canada, with some produced in New Mexico and Utah. Flashes and bangs are produced by aluminum powder. The largest producers of aluminum ore are China and Australia. Sparks are produced by iron filings. U.S. iron ore is mostly mined in Michigan and Minnesota.

As for the brilliant colors, greens result from barium, which is primarily mined in China. Copper is mined in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Montana, Michigan and Missouri, providing the blue colors. Reds are created by strontium, mined mostly in Mexico. Yellows are created from sodium nitrate, which is mined mostly in Chile and Peru. Silvers are produced from titanium, zirconium and magnesium. Titanium and zirconium are mined in Florida and Georgia, with significant quantities imported from Australia, South Africa and China. Magnesium is mined from saltwater in Utah, California and Delaware, with significant quantities imported from China.

So as you watch the fireworks this year, remember they come from mines all over the world. If you like the fireworks show, thank a miner!

Ray Sheldon, New Brighton


Of course we should abolish ICE, open borders, sacrifice eagerly

The question of whether or not to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement shouldn’t even be a question at all (“Mpls. marchers: Reunite parents, kids,” July 1, and Readers Write, July 3). ICE needs to go, and there doesn’t need to be a replacement for this terrorist organization. President Donald Trump uses ICE as a political weapon.

I believe in all sincerity that there should be no borders at all. Those who want to come here should be able to. Everyone’s welcome. True, most of the new immigrants are poor and bring nothing but their children and the clothes on their back. America is a wealthy country. We can pay for them by taxing the upper 10 percent at a 90 percent tax rate. Also, Social Security and Medicare payments can be slashed, with that money also going to the refugees. America can suck it up. Its people don’t need all that they have.

Another idea is to find out who lives in homes with extra bedrooms. Those who have extra rooms should allow refugee families to move into their homes. There is no better way to show the world how kind, generous and accepting Americans are than by sharing our homes and wealth with those who are less fortunate.

Robert Linser, Minneapolis


Freedom of speech and response; the weight of events and words

The “ ‘Good German,’ ‘Good American’ ” commentary (June 25) generated some well-considered replies to a complex issue that may never be fully understood. One Readers Write response, in its final paragraph, could raise a certain level of discomfort in the minds of many journalists. I draw a parallel to the accused shooter in the deaths of five people at a newspaper in Maryland, because that attacker, as reported, had a long conflict with the Capital Gazette.

The Star Tribune letter used the word “slanders” in referring to the proportion of the population that supports President Donald Trump. For its writer then to go on indicating that it would be “unwise, unbecoming and alienating” to continue publishing articles such as “ ‘Good German,’ ‘Good American’ ” left this reader to wonder: At what end? Let us please choose our words carefully in today’s America.

Gene Hanf, Deephaven


Of course it’s all on you, the unmitigated American voter

Steve Chapman’s June 29 commentary (“Democracy. It’s all on you. It always has been.”) makes the argument that overly activist judges damage democracy and that rule by the people via voting is how we should expect to get things done. That’s like saying a free market is the way we should expect commerce to be done, not taking into consideration things like subsidies, tax breaks, tariffs, etc. With gerrymandering and other voter-suppression techniques in play, along with acts like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s personal filibustering of Supreme Court justices for anyone but a Republican president, our democracy is already damaged. How about term limits for every branch of the government? Let’s force some new blood and ideas into the process.

Mark Dunnett, Lakeville


A reminder of the dedicated work of advocates for victims/witnesses

At a time when incivility and a lack of compassion seem to be a trending mode of behavior, I’m compelled to shine a light on a team of unsung heroes who consistently resist that trend. In many counties (my experience is in Hennepin), there are victim/witness advocates who work tirelessly to support individuals who have witnessed or been affected by crimes. These advocates support people who are fearful while testifying against criminals or who have been devastated by a crime. It’s the advocates’ job to guide these victims and witnesses and to keep them feeling informed and feeling safe through a process that is incomprehensible and can often compound the trauma they’ve experienced.

The circumstances these advocates encounter on a daily basis would make most people run for cover. Our family was carried through a gut-wrenching process that ran the course of a year and required three days in court. The behavior of the defendant’s family was uncivil, to say the least. Our advocate, Janice, stood calm and strong against that. She was kind, compassionate, informed and fierce in her effort to protect us from things completely out of her control. She gave us confidence and made us feel cared for in what can feel like an uncaring system. She was a hero to us.

I received the sad news last week that Janice had passed away. It was a shock and struck me in a deep way I never would have imagined. I know her colleagues will be working overtime to take on her caseload so that no one has to navigate on their own the difficult labyrinth that the judicial process can be.

When families are in the midst of this process, they often forget to adequately recognize the advocates or all the other “behind the scenes” or front-row professionals for the difficult work they do. I would like to tip my hat and say thank you on behalf of all those who have been supported by these unsung heroes.

The entire team of professionals who work under the leadership of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman do their work with compassion, integrity and respect. They maintain civility despite the circumstances and behaviors that are often directed at them. They follow the example he leads by. I’d like to thank them all and express my condolences to them for the loss of their kind and gentle colleague — an unsung hero. Rest in peace, Janice.

Colleen Ronnei, Chanhassen