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DEAR ABBY: I am a veteran of World War II. I have a bumper sticker on my vehicle announcing a past reunion of my Army unit. Recently, while shopping, I was approached by an employee of the firm I was in who asked me, "Did you serve, sir?" I replied that I had, indeed, served in WWII. The young man then said, "I would like to thank you, sir, for what you did for our country."

I was stunned. In 55 years, this is the first time I have ever been thanked by a fellow American.

I lost three friends at Normandy, one of whom died at my side. When I look back at the fulfilling life that I have enjoyed in this country that I love, I regard with lasting sorrow the memory of those friends who were denied that opportunity.

The considerate words uttered by that young man meant more to me than I could ever convey to him. In some manner, the pain of remembrance has been made less painful by his kindness.

I returned to visit that young man and gave him my combat medic's badge as a token of my gratitude. -- OSCAR ORTIZ, SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR OSCAR: Because you chose to write this letter, countless veterans will be able to read that young man's words. Memories fade, but the printed word often outlives the writer. Thank you for sharing that rewarding encounter.

DEAR ABBY: Please publish the following plea. It may well save lives. As a deputy sheriff in a small county, I am called to the home of a citizen in a remote area at least once each duty day. Very often, I have a difficult time finding the right house because there is no address on the mailbox, or if there is an address, it's only on the side from which the mail delivery comes.

Emergency vehicles will come in from the closest direction. If there is an address, and it's on the side opposite our approach, we can't see it until we pass it -- and then we must take our eyes off the road to read it. If it's the one we're looking for, we must then find a safe place to turn around, causing further delay in our arrival.

On behalf of all peace officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel across the nation, I make the following suggestions:

1. Place your address in large numbers in a contrasting color on BOTH sides of your mailbox.

2. Place your address on the house in such a manner as to be easily readable in all light and weather conditions. This is even more important when there are several homes close together.

3. If at all possible, please have someone at the door or in the yard to guide us in.

4. Give the 911 operator a brief description of the house.

Remember, we're trained, equipped and eager to offer the best emergency service, but we can't do a blessed thing until we find you. -- PETER N. SPAGNOLO, DEPUTY SHERIFF, PAYETTE COUNTY, IDAHO

DEAR DEPUTY SPAGNOLO: Those are excellent suggestions, and I hope they'll be taken to heart. They may prevent a tragedy. Your plea is one I hear at least once a year from emergency personnel.

Readers, please take a moment to see whether your address can be easily read from the street. And if it can't -- make it a priority to remedy the problem.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklets I and II, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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