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by Abigail Van Buren

Operation Dear Abby Is Casualty of Terrorist War

DEAR ABBY: I have sad news. Unfortunately, we are forced to cancel Operation Dear Abby for the 2001 holiday season. Recent mail-related attacks have demonstrated the vulnerability of the postal system. As a result, mail handling has become more sensitive and time-consuming. The increased volume of mail resulting from Operation Dear Abby, coupled with the increased manpower effort for Force Protection, has the potential of impacting both the quality of service and, more important, the safety provided to our military personnel.

Operation Dear Abby creates an avenue to introduce mail into the system from unknown sources. Our primary concern is the safety of the members of the armed forces who are forward-deployed in defense of our country.

I want to personally thank you for your long and distinguished service to the members of the armed forces of the United States of America. Your efforts and the efforts of your readers are acknowledged and appreciated by all service members. -- CAPT. E.M. DUCOM, U.S. NAVY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, MILITARY POSTAL SERVICE AGENCY

DEAR CAPT. DUCOM: Thank you. I know your message will come as a disappointment to the many thousands of patriotic Americans who for the past 16 years have joyfully participated in sending cards and letters to our servicemen and women, and who had looked forward to Operation Dear Abby this year. While I, too, am extremely disappointed, I know I speak for my readers when I say the safety of our military personnel is paramount.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have enjoyed a happy marriage for the past nine years. We are financially secure and have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter. Aside from the occasional disagreement, I have had no complaints about our relationship.

However, my wife has taken up an activity that has begun to trouble me. It began about three years ago, when she resolved to make preparations in case of her untimely death. She purchased a life insurance policy and made out her will. This seems reasonable to me, but in addition, she also wrote her own eulogy. At the time I thought it was strange, but understandable. After all, it is important to be properly remembered.

What is disturbing is that my wife has begun revising her eulogy to include the major events of her life as they happen. She has done it more than 20 times since originally making out the speech. It has become her hobby. In fact, upon recently returning from a good friend's wedding, she spent the better part of a Saturday working the experience into her document.

This pastime cannot be healthy. How can my wife live her life if she constantly reminds herself of her death? We have discussed this several times. She doesn't understand why this bothers me, nor does she particularly want to talk about it. Am I worrying for nothing? -- CONCERNED HUSBAND IN THE SOUTH

DEAR CONCERNED: Your wife's new hobby is bizarre, but if she is exhibiting no signs of depression or personality changes, it's probably nothing to worry about. She may feel she has no control over how she will die, but can control what's said about her. Or perhaps she's a frustrated writer. I am intrigued, however, how she got it into her that someone attending her funeral would be interested in hearing about the weddings she has attended. At the rate she's going, your wife may have the longest funeral in history.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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