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      Independence Day kicks off early, lasts all day and night

      The celebrations and patriotism started early Wednesday morning for the 4th of July holiday.

      In the early morning hours of America's 236th Independence Day, crowds gathered in Murrells Inlet in honor of our freedom.

      "We make sure we're here early to get the best spots, and we just love coming down here to celebrate the Fourth of July," said Myrtle Beach resident Kathy Cardillo. "It just wouldn't be the Fourth of July without coming to Murrells Inlet to watch the boat parade."

      This is Cardillo's seventh year at the boat parade, and hundreds of patriots crammed the Marshwalk with her for the 29th annual event.

      "We need to unite together and realize that America is the land of the free," said Cardillo. "We need to be free, and we need to celebrate that and hold on to it."

      While many like Cardillo expressed their pride with words, others displayed their passion in silence.

      Murrells Inlet businesses and residents placed 125 flags along Highway 17 as a sign of the sacrifices of those serving our country.

      Also for the 3rd straight year, "The Flying Tigers" of the 20th Fighter Wing saluted the shore and patriots lining the beach.

      "Lasted about ten seconds, but I got a very good view," said Spartanburg resident Owen Wilson.

      But when all the fireworks are gone and the last boat finally docks, the day is ultimately remembered for how we as a nation started and the men and women who continue to protect us.

      "I appreciate all the soldiers out there that fought for this freedom," said Kip Cox from Spartanburg, "and happy Fourth of July everybody."