Thumbs up to Independence Day. No, not the movie. The holiday. The one we celebrate each July 4 to celebrate the birth of our great nation. We often call that day the Fourth of July, but we should call it by its true name. This year it conveniently makes for a three-day weekend. That’s great, but this is so much more than an extra day off of work (for most people). It’s more than a picnic, parade or fireworks show.

It’s a day to reflect on the people who fought for our freedom from what they considered an oppressive British government. They fought the Revolutionary War, and during that war, 56 people signed the Declaration of Independence. The war started in 1775, but its origins trace to the Dec. 16, 1773 Boston Tea Party. The war didn’t end until 1783, seven years after we declared independence. Those years were a struggle, and life was rough for many of the signers of the declaration. Some were caught, prisoned as traitors and tortured before they died. Homes were ransacked and burned. Families were terrorized.

Today is the 240th anniversary of the day the Continental Congress formally voted for independence. The declaration was not put into place until Aug. 2, 1776 when it was first signed by Delaware. But enough of this history lesson. Enjoy your holiday weekend. Just don’t forget the real reason why we celebrate. Hot dogs, anyone?

Thumbs up to the amazing Coastal Carolina baseball team. Just reaching the College World Series for the first time in school history was remarkable enough. But the Chanticleers weren’t satisfied merely to be in Omaha, Nebraska, although they sure had fun. They stunned top-seeded Florida in their first game, lost to TCU in their second game and then rebounded. They made it all the way to the final day of the tournament, pushing a favored Arizona team to the third game in a best-of-three championship series … and then they won it all in a tense game. What a story! Hail the Champticleers.

Thumbs up to the powers that be who pushed for naming part of a Florence street after Ed Robinson, the late Florence city councilman. S.C. Reps. Terry Alexander and Robert Williams recently co-sponsored a resolution to rename a section of East Pine Street and hosted a dedication ceremony Sunday afternoon, along with S.C. Sen. Kent Williams and Cumberland United Methodist Church – the church Robinson attended. The state resolution passed, and part of East Pine Street between South Church Street and South Jeffords Street was renamed “Ed Robinson Way.”

We love “Way.” It’s so much more appropriate than “Street” or “Avenue” or “Road,” etc. Robinson certainly had a “way” about him during the 26 years that he served District 2. Not everybody liked the way of the city’s longest-serving councilman, but he served his constituents well. Alexander said this street naming is just a small way to remind the city of the legacy Robinson leaves behind. “Every time people ride that street they will see his name,” Alexander said. “The community was his heart and soul, and we think it’s fitting to commemorate him in this way.”

Thumbs up to First Reliance Bank for helping the Florence Veterans Park. The Florence bank will provide veterans and other members of the community an opportunity to help fund the latest addition to the park. The Veterans Park Committee has been raising funds to add a monument to the men and women of the U.S. Army.

First Reliance Bank, as part of its Hometown Heroes Program, will match up to $1,000 of coins donated through its coin machines at either location, Palmetto Street or Second Loop. People who wish to donate can bring any amount of coins, run them through coin machine, and designate an amount to go to the Veterans Park. All donations are considered charitable donations. "This is exactly the kind of community support we need,” said Barry Wingard, chairman of the Veterans Park Committee. “We are grateful to First Reliance for suggesting this. We have been pretty lucky over the years garnering support from organizations, businesses, and individuals, but this type thing opens the door to the public to give as little or as much as they wish and be a participant in honoring our veterans."

The Army Monument was designed by Bran Oswalt of Brown Memorials and will feature hand-etched depictions of Army equipment and personnel over the years. The monument will be dedicated at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 at the annual Florence Veterans Day Ceremony. This monument will complete one of the park's early priorities: monuments to each service.

Last year, the U.S. Air Force monument was added. In 2014, monuments to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard were put in place. And a monument to the USMC and the Marine Corps League was dedicated in 2010. Initially unplanned, the park was able to add a tribute to the Merchant Marine through the generosity of the Samuel Bacot Chapter of the DAR and Patriot's Point in Charleston..

Thumbs up, thumbs down is a regular feature of the Morning News and appears each Saturday on our Opinion page. We seek nominations for both good and bad deeds from our readers. Send nominations to us by email at letters@florencenews.com. Be sure use the word “thumb” in the subject and include a contact number. Thumbs can also be mailed to us c/o The Morning News, 310 S. Dargan St., Florence, S.C., 29506.

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