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by Abigail Van Buren

Wartime Correspondence Is Treasure Trove of History

DEAR READERS: In honor of Veterans Day, I want to tell you about a young man on a mission to remember our nation's veterans in a unique and meaningful way -- by preserving their old letters!

Andy Carroll is the founder of The Legacy Project, an all-volunteer, national effort that promotes a greater appreciation for letters and the art of letter-writing. All of Andy's letters were destroyed when his house burned down years ago, and he knows firsthand how important it is to save old letters before they're lost or damaged. He is also the editor of a book titled "Letters of a Nation: A Collection of Extraordinary American Letters" (Kodansha America), which was recently published.

Andy is now working with the Veterans Administration, museums and archives around the country to encourage Americans to search through their homes for historically significant war letters. These may include eyewitness accounts of battles or acts of heroism, encounters with famous military leaders, love letters, or any other irreplaceable messages or little-known stories that will offer historians and future generations a better understanding of those who served and sacrificed for our country.

The letters can be some you've personally written or received, or letters written by a relative from any war in which Americans were involved. (Remember Grandpa's old war letters in the attic? They may offer profound insight into the life of a soldier.)

The Legacy Project will direct all potentially significant letters to respected museums and archives, which -- with your permission -- will then preserve them for posterity. If you prefer to keep your letters, The Legacy Project will send you information on safeguarding them.

The Legacy Project is not looking for money. It is funded by proceeds from Andy's book.

If you believe you have a historically significant letter you would like to share, please send a COPY (no originals, please!) to Andy at: Operation Mail Call, c/o The Legacy Project, P.O. Box 21812, Washington, D.C. 20009-1812.

DEAR ABBY: Although I have read your column for years, I have never felt so strongly about something that I needed to write to you. However, I recently saw the movie "Saving Private Ryan."

Abby, I have never been so affected by a film in all my life. I'm a 29-year-old woman who has, thank God, never lived through a war -- except the Gulf War, which was short-lived. I was aware of most of the aspects of World War II because of what I had learned in school. However, it never before hit me with the impact it did when I saw it on the big screen. It was so realistic, I felt I was there.

I'm writing to thank all the men and women who have served our country, not only in times of war -- but also in peacetime. I have never felt as much respect and gratitude as I do now. And thank you, too, Steven Spielberg, for bringing this movie to the screen for all to see. -- THANKFUL AMERICAN IN NEW YORK

DEAR THANKFUL: Thank you for your timely sentiments, which I am sharing with all veterans today. Freedom-loving Americans owe a great debt to our servicemen and women who daily put themselves at risk to serve this nation. They deserve our unqualified support, and at least a moment of respect for their many sacrifices.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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