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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I had searched all over the city of Los Angeles for an American flag for my car. Saturday afternoon, around 2:30, I stopped for a red light on Wilshire Boulevard. In the car next to mine were two young women who had a flag mounted outside their window. I lowered my window and asked where they got their flag. They said they had waited in line two hours to purchase two flags, and then the passenger reached into the back seat and handed me one.

I don't know their names. I do know that it is acts of patriotism like theirs that will keep this country strong and proud. Please print this so they'll know their kindness and generosity were appreciated. -- DR. DOROTHY NEUMAN, BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.

DEAR DR. NEUMAN: I'm pleased to do it. Your benefactors deserve to be saluted. I have heard stories about opportunistic people who stormed flag stores and bought flags by the dozen, only to resell them at double or triple the usual price. Greed at the expense of patriotism is shameful. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am 12 years old and am concerned about how people are treating each other.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, many people have been treating Muslims badly because they suspect that the people who were responsible came from the Middle East. That is not fair! We should not hurt people who probably were not even connected with these attacks. It's like saying one person killed someone, so their sister must have killed someone, too.

Please print this, Abby. In times like this the people in our country should join together, not tear each other apart. -- RACHAEL ERICKSON

DEAR RACHAEL: Well said. I am also concerned about reports of the scapegoating of Arab-Americans (both Christian and Muslim) and of brown-skinned people who happen to resemble them (for example, Hispanics, Indians and Southeast Asians). I hope your letter will make the guilty parties stop and rethink what they are doing. Such acts are a reflection of panic and ignorance, not patriotism. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Your recent column about rape and the stigma that goes along with it got me to thinking. I was raped 19 years ago on Sept. 11. The violent acts of terrorism that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, are much like being raped. It was not our fault. We were unable to see it coming. We couldn't stop it from happening. Americans lost their sense of security and became afraid. This is what happens to rape victims. Just like rape victims, Americans' lives have been forever changed. -- DOUBLE VICTIM IN INDIANA

DEAR DOUBLE VICTIM: Thank you for a thought-provoking letter. Our country has much to be proud of. Our people are united in a way we haven't been for 60 years, and we're receiving overwhelming support from the family of nations. These are challenging times, but America is at her best when faced with challenges.

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