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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am responding to the letters you printed earlier this year encouraging veterans to speak to students about their military experiences. In recent years, I had noticed less and less recognition of this holiday in schools and realized that unless we teach our children about the valuable contributions of all veterans, they will be forgotten. So, for the past two years I have organized a Veterans Day assembly for students and staff at Van Buren Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Our assemblies have been successful and greatly appreciated by students, staff and local veterans.

A terrific resource for schools planning a Veterans Day program is available at our Web site: Our site contains ideas to use with students from kindergarten to high school.

The school also honors veterans with a "Wall of Stars." Near the end of October, each student is given a note with red, white and blue paper stars attached to take home. The instructions are for each family to talk about veterans in their family. Students are to write on the stars the names of any family members or friends who have served in the military. When the stars are returned to school, they are placed in random order on the "Wall of Stars" to create a visual thank-you to all veterans. During November conferences, students enjoy pointing out to their parents the stars they have placed on the board.

I recommend that all parents and educators use Veterans Day as an opportunity to teach their students about the contributions and sacrifices veterans have made so that we may enjoy our many freedoms. -- KATHY SHELTON

DEAR KATHY: What a wonderful way to honor veterans. And as you suggested, it's an idea that can be used by schools, organizations, clubs and neighborhoods on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11.

Veterans Day commemorates the signing of the armistice that ended World War I, Nov. 11, 1918. (The year I was born!) In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 Armistice Day as a day of remembrance, and in 1938 the date became a federal holiday. In 1954, the name was changed by Congress to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.

Readers, a reminder: Hundreds of thousands of our service members gave their lives so that we can live in a free country and elect our leaders by voting. If you haven't already done so, there may still be time to register to vote. Call your local registrar of voters for more information.

DEAR ABBY: I am searching for a tradition or custom for my daughter's 13th birthday. I have heard of sweet-16 parties, but is there something for a sweet 13-year-old going from childhood to her teen years? -- MANTECA, CALIF., MOTHER

DEAR MOTHER: Since the age of 13 marks the official end of her days as a "girl" and the beginning of her years as a young woman, take your daughter out to dinner to celebrate. Consider including some of her older female relatives who are especially close to her. It will be an occasion she will remember for the rest of her life.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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