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Thumbs up to the region’s annual observation of Veterans Day. Every American owes a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have served in the American Armed Forces from Lexington and Concord to the conflicts of today. But, let’s not forget the origin of this day. The armistice that ended World War I was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. We pause to remember the end of that conflict that killed millions of soldiers and civilians, primarily on the European continent. The remembrance eventually morphed into the holiday we now observe as Veterans Day. So, this year, let’s take the time not only to remember those who distinguished themselves by wearing their country’s uniform, but also to reflect on the way America has historically used its military might. America is a huge country, blessed with a wealth of natural resources. It stands to reason that our nation would be an economic and military powerhouse. However, since America was drawn into World War I, it has been a nation willing to sacrifice on the behalf of nations overrun by ruthless dictators and a nation that has readily come to the defense of our allies. This is not a day to celebrate the battlefield victories, but rather the spirit of nation that inspires its young men and women to sacrifice for their fellow Americans, for their fellow citizens of the world. For that human spirit, for that selfless attitude, we salute Americans who have served our country in the military.

Thumbs down to the reported closing of Pinch Penny Pub. There are few establishments in Carbondale as iconic as the historic watering hole. The wonderfully alliterative name doesn’t have to be spoken aloud. If someone in Southern Illinois says they’re going to “Pinch,” that’s all that needs to be said. For more than two generations, Carbondale residents and SIU students have flocked to Pinch for a celebratory drink after finals, after a big Saluki victory or just because. However, even in saloons where seemingly everyone knows your name, time doesn’t stand still. Pinch Penny Pub has apparently been sold to developers who don’t plan to keep the bar in operation. So, to Pinch Penny Pub and the thousands of patrons who have passed through its doors, this one is for you.

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Thumbs up to the football teams at Du Quoin, Murphysboro, Benton, Nashville and Fairfield high schools for surviving the first round of the playoffs. Only five of 13 playoff teams survived the first round, and a couple — Du Quoin and Benton — relied on last-minute heroics to stay alive. So, for at least another week, the dreams of a state football championship remain alive.

Thumbs up to the Southern Illinois Community Foundation which is celebrating 20 years of philanthropy. Today, the SICF manages 60 accounts which include scholarships at six area high schools, funds for the maintenance of area parks, churches and museums. Other funds support teachers, student organizations, disaster relief and even the Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization. Other groups that benefit include the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Illinois, the African American Museum, the General John A. Logan Museum and CEO programs in Jackson, Perry, Union and Saline counties. “We started in 2000,” said Byram Fager, CEO and executive director of SICF. “There was a group of individuals who came together looking for ways to help encourage philanthropy in Southern Illinois. The southern 17 counties had no community foundation to support them.”

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