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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: In a recent column in the Delaware News-Journal, you condemned the traditional Labor Day Pigeon Shoot in Hegins, Pa. I was pleased to learn that you were compassionate enough to have written to then-Gov. Dick Thornburgh in 1986, protesting that barbaric tradition, and you asked him to please put an end to it. You said he responded with a courteous letter defending the live pigeon-shoot as a time-honored tradition.

Well, Abby, last week, on Election Day, Dick Thornburgh suffered an unexpected defeat in his race for the U.S. Senate. In Philadelphia, the newspaper headlines read: "Wofford Stuns Thornburgh!"

In sustaining this totally unexpected defeat, Dick Thornburgh must have felt as stunned as those doomed pigeons of Hegins for whom he refused to take merciful action. -- JANICE DILLON, WILMINGTON, DEL.

DEAR JANICE: I have received a few letters asking if it was just a coincidence that the letter about Dick Thornburgh and the Labor Day Pigeon Shoot in Hegins appeared in my column just a few days before the Pennsylvania elections. I assure you, it was. I am not so egotistical to presume that my column was in any way responsible for Thornburgh's defeat. Suffice it to say, it didn't help him any.

Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Re Dick Thornburgh's letter to you describing the Hegins Pigeon Shoot as "a time-honored tradition": May I remind him of a few other "time-honored traditions"?

-- Public hangings

-- Segregation

-- Cockfights

-- Bullfights

-- The caste system

-- Apartheid

-- Binding the feet of female infants (in pre-revolutionary China) to impede their growth

-- Leaving elderly people out on the ice to die

Some of these "traditions" needed a war to stop them. Others ended because they became illegal. I thank God we have people who see injustices for what they are, and have the courage to fight for change. -- ROSALIE BEREZICK, TRUCKSVILLE, PA.

DEAR ROSALIE: Thanks for writing. I am reminded of the immortal words attributed to Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the Irish-born British statesman: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

DEAR ABBY: Greetings from Oregon. I'm writing concerning that POW bracelet which Karen A. Tamura of Cerritos, Calif., found in her garage. (It was engraved "Lt. Cmdr. John McKamey.")

I, too, am a veteran, and I've always wished that I could have gone to Vietnam, but I was too young at the time. My older brother went to Vietnam, and he came back a different man: psychologically screwed.

I've read thousands of pages about that war and talked to numerous vets, and yes, they are very reluctant to talk about it.

Abby, if you can't find the family of Lt. Cmdr. John McKamey, please send me that POW bracelet. I will put it on my wrist and wear it to my deathbed, or until all POWs have been returned or accounted for. -- GREGORY WANG, BEND, ORE.

DEAR GREGORY: I have some happy news for you. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I'm replying to Karen Tamura from Cerritos, Calif.: John McKamey is alive and well and residing in Pensacola, Fla. He's a wonderful man and I'm proud that I met him. -- DENNY GLYNN

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