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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I was troubled by your response to the letter from Betie Newton. While I feel as you do about the heroic and noble deed of her father in saving the lives of a Jewish family during World War II, I am not in agreement with your comment that "we are living in a country where people will NEVER (emphasis mine) encounter the horror that was faced by your friend and father."

Abby, it was apathy and denial by the populace that led to the actions of the Nazis. There are those in our society who preach the same hatred, and there is profound apathy in this country toward those who engage in such activities. We all hope that we will never "encounter such horror," but only an informed, vigilant and morally active society can prevent such a horror from ever happening again. We should never say never. -- DARRELL D. SAGE, CARLISLE, PA.

DEAR DARRELL: You have written a strong and profound letter, to which I would add: In order to protect our freedoms, it is vital that we exercise them to the fullest. I refer specifically to our right to vote.

We live in a society where it's still possible to achieve success through hard work and dedication. If that is to continue, people must educate themselves about the issues that are important to them, make their wishes known at the ballot box and select candidates they trust to represent them. It's a big responsibility, but the future of our country depends upon everyone assuming it.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Peter," recently endured a horrible experience in a department store. He was browsing in the men's shoe section but saw nothing he wanted to purchase.

As he was leaving, a security officer yelled at him to stay where he was. She then asked him to follow her. Peter asked her why, but the security officer did not give him an answer. He was led to a back room and asked to lift his feet. The security officer looked at the bottom of his shoes and said, "You are the wrong guy." She explained that while she was watching the store monitor, she had seen a man put on a pair of shoes and walk away without paying for them. She apologized and told Peter he was free to leave.

Peter left the store feeling humiliated and vowed never to return. Should he report this to store management, or is this the way customers should expect to be treated? -- DUMBFOUNDED IN ROXBORO, N.C.

DEAR DUMBFOUNDED: My sources inform me that the primary duty of security personnel is to protect and/or recover the store's assets, not to arrest customers. Because the exposure to liability is so great, the vast majority of department stores have stringent guidelines limiting the manner in which a customer can be detained. Suspicion is never sufficient cause to stop a customer for questioning.

The detainment your husband experienced is called a "bad stop," and it should be reported to the store management.

DEAR ABBY: When a person receives a box of chocolates as a bread and butter gift, some people expect it to be opened and passed around. At a large party, it can be finished off, and the host or hostess might not even get to taste it.

I feel that a gift of chocolates should be opened when and where the recipient wants, and shared (or not) as the recipient wishes. What do you think, Abby? -- CHOCOLATE LOVER IN LOMPOC, CALIF.

DEAR CHOCOLATE LOVER: I'm a chocolate lover, too. However, a gracious host does not put the box of chocolates aside, but shares the wealth.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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