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by Abigail Van Buren

Child of War Remembers Brave Soldiers Who Saved His Life

DEAR ABBY: I would like to address this letter to the American heroes of World War II. I am a Dutch lawyer, 63 years old, and retired. At the time of that terrible war I was a little boy between 4 and 8 years old.

We lived in Balikpapan (Borneo, Indonesia) until the day that women and children had to quickly leave by plane for Java, trying to escape the onrushing Japanese army. My mother, sister and I arrived in Java with nothing but the clothes and shoes we were wearing.

My father, whom I loved dearly, had to stay behind with the other employees of the Shell group in order to destroy the oil installations and plants so they couldn't be used by the Japanese. I never saw my father again. After the war, I learned that he and the other men had died in a concentration camp. My mother, sister and I were also in a concentration camp for four years. It's a miracle I survived.

I owe my life to the American soldiers who served at that time in the Pacific and Europe. Because of them, the war ended much sooner. I want to thank them all for giving everything they had and lived for, to serve America and to rescue so many nations in distress and agony. I am always happy to see that when others are too afraid, the Americans step into the breach for a world in trouble.

I want to acknowledge the brave efforts of the American military who fought gallantly in World War II, in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. I want to thank them with my whole heart for giving their youth, their limbs and sometimes their lives in order to save the lives of defenseless children and adults. It was a heroic fight against satanic dictators and tyrants.

I realize that words may be inadequate to express my deep gratitude. But I want them to rest assured that they have not been forgotten, and that my life and the lives of so many others were saved by their heroic sacrifices.

God bless the American veterans! -- ERIK P. BOERS, HOLLAND

DEAR ERIK: You may feel that words are inadequate to express your feelings, but I'm sure the people they are intended for will get the message.

As the citizens of our great country well know, wearing a uniform and serving in the armed forces is dangerous work even in the best of times -- so I would like to extend your message: God bless our veterans and the men and women currently in our armed forces, wherever they are. They deserve to know how grateful we are. And bless the spirits of those who sacrificed their lives that we might live in freedom on this Memorial Day.