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Happy Independence Day weekend! The Fourth fell midweek this year with most of the parades and fireworks going off yesterday. But many of the family picnics and Fourth of July gatherings are still to come through the weekend as they signal that summer is in full swing.

It’s a grand tradition to recognize the birth of our country and the rebellious Founding Fathers who struck an independent course for a new nation cloaked in the concept of democratic rule by the people. Today we remain an independent, rebellious and often contentious group and that freedom to speak our minds and criticize our government remains one of our greatest strengths.

Fire up the grill, enjoy and celebrate with friends and family. And be careful if you are lighting off fireworks of your own or traveling and take time to give a salute to Old Glory and the price Americans have paid to keep her flying.

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The quick arrest of a suspect in the shooting death of Racine Police Officer John Hetland was a tribute to the professionalism and hard work of a host of local and state law enforcement agencies that combined in the investigation.

It was also a tribute to the efficiency and advancement in the use of DNA and criminal forensics. Evidence collected from the rear door of Teezer’s Bar and Grill where the assailant reportedly had tried to enter the building moments before the shooting was processed by the State Crime Lab and pointed the finger at the Milwaukee man now accused of the crime.

The arrest, a day after Hetland’s funeral, brought a sigh of relief from the community.

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Sure pop flies count. Milwaukee All Star and fan favorite Christian Yelich hopefully slipped out of a little slump and dinked a pop fly to left field at the Great America Ball Park in Cincinnati Monday night that miraculously carried into the stands.

The ‘blast” helped give the Brewers an 8-6 win, a spot atop the division standings and gave Yelich 30 home runs so far this season (he added number 31 on Tuesday) — making him the first Brewer ever to do that before the All Star break.

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In a fitting and gritty Fourth of July week performance, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team bested England Tuesday to advance to the finals of the Women’s World Cup championship this weekend. In a bruising and hard-fought match, the U.S. team outlasted England 2-1. The defending champions face the winner of the Netherlands-Sweden match on Sunday.

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“Fan” is, of course, short for “fanatic” and Wisconsin golf fans cemented their reputation for being supportive and appreciative of the game and its players two weeks ago with huge crowds at the American Family Insurance Championship — a PGA Champions Tour event — at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison.

Spurred by a celebrity match with golfing great Jack Nicklaus and former Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre — the attendance on Saturday alone topped 40,000. And, yes, it helped that Wisconsin golfer Jerry Kelly won the championship in a playoff that included another Wisconsin golfer Steve Stricker, who went on to win the U.S. Senior Open the next week at a course on the University of Notre Dame campus.

The turnout there? Not so much judging by the televised views of the galleries. American Family, the UW-Madison and Madison have done a fine job coordinating a great golf event — and set a nice stage for next year’s Ryder Cup match-up against the European team just up Lake Michigan at Whistling Straits.

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