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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I must take exception to the letters from Joseph Murray and Emily Maheu about rank in the military.

I was with my husband during 29 years of military life, and during that time I realized that acknowledgment of military rank is nothing more than respect for position and achievement. Let's face it, without such acknowledgment our society would be mediocre and achieve less than its full potential.

Our children should be taught to recognize success, achievement and experience. They can do that by addressing adults by the proper title, even if it is nothing more than "Sir" and "Ma'am." If our children can address a doctor as "Doctor," they can address our military by rank, an expression of acknowledgment and respect. Your first response was more to the point. -- HELEN A. FOWKES, PUNTA GORDA, FLA.

DEAR HELEN: From the mail I received from people formerly and presently in the military, you and I are in the minority, and only now am I receiving letters from people like you who agreed with my answer. Thanks for your support.

DEAR ABBY: One more word, please, on whether children should address military personnel by their rank.

Your correspondent, Joseph J. Murray, wrote that a 12-year-old girl shouldn't be expected to know the level of military ranks. She does not have to. She can call a lieutenant "Lieutenant" without knowing whether he outranks a captain.

The wife of a retired officer didn't want her children to "feel that one person deserves more respect than another just because of rank," so she did not teach her children to address their parents' friends by their rank. Using the same reasoning, I assume she taught her children to call a doctor "Mister." After all, calling him "Doctor" might give him too much respect.

The fact is, it is just as wrong to address someone in the military as "Mr." or "Ms." as it is to call a physician "Mr. Jones." Those honorifics are applicable only to civilians. The only exceptions are warrant officers and certain junior naval officers, who are properly addressed as "Mr." Parents who object to the proper use of titles are passing their ignorance along to their children. -- WALTER H. INGE, LT. COL., USAF (RET.), ATLANTA

DEAR ABBY: I have a question that may be of interest to your other readers.

Why do newspapers publish notices that state that on a particular day and between certain hours, the police will crack down on speeders along a specified highway in a special effort?

In my opinion, the disclosure defeats the purpose of the special effort. -- CARL THOMPSON, CHULA VISTA, CALIF.

DEAR CARL: It depends on how you interpret the purpose of the special effort. Look at it this way: The crackdowns are usually announced at holiday time when highway traffic is particularly heavy and many of the drivers have been partying with alcohol. Public warnings cause many drivers to slow down and pay closer attention to the road because they know the police are out in force and looking for "speeders." The benefit is fewer out-of-control drivers on a holiday weekend, and, let's hope, fewer accidents and tragedies.

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