JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - Camp Lejeune will not be having its July 4th fireworks display because of sequestration, base officials announced on Tuesday.
According to Nat Fahy, director of public affairs at Camp Lejeune, base leaders decided to cancel this year's fireworks show to minimize the financial hit the military is taking from the sequester, which President Obama signed into effect on March 1. The order calls for an $85 million reduction in federal defense and domestic spending until October. The Defense Department is required to cut $46 billion from its budget.
Some local residents said they are upset about the cancellation of the fireworks display.
"I'm shocked, I'm speechless," said Diana Leffingwell, who owns a Chicago-style restaurant in Jacksonville. "I just can't believe they're going to cut spending to celebrate Independence Day."
Leffingwell, a Marine veteran, said her first date with her husband was at Camp Lejeune's Fourth of July fireworks display in 1977. She said she's been going to the fireworks show every year.
"There's really no where else that has enough room for that amount of people," Leffingwell said.
Another military veteran, Booker Kures, said he isn't happy about the cancellation, but understands the need for it.
"Somebody is going to always not be happy," Kures said. "I would be interested in seeing how they could offset this with some other types of morale boosters."
Camp Lejeune leaders said the decision to cancel the July 4th fireworks was not easy.
"Our continued support to the operating forces, our Wounded Warriors and our families always comes first," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Gorry, the Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations East - Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. "I didn't make this decision lightly as I understand how important this event is to our service members and the local community, but canceling it will allow us to use all available resources to ensure we can mitigate the fiscal challenges we are currently facing."
According to Fahy, Marine Corps Community Services still plans to offer free activities on July 4th to all active-duty personnel, retirees and their family members. Activities include golf, bowling, skeet shooting, archery and free movies at the base theater. In addition, many marina and beach recreational equipment rental fees will be waived that day.