DEAR READERS: Today's column will be different. I want to thank you for making OperationDearAbby.net a tremendous success. Because of your generosity, our troops have received more than 375,000 messages. That's the equivalent of more than five tons of letters. (Heaven only knows how many trees have been spared because they weren't needed for paper.) And the Department of Defense tells me that the number of "hits" -– that's visits to the site -– has topped 25 million!
I'll share a sample of the messages that were received from young readers (spelling and grammar preserved):
DEAR SOLDIER: I'm glad you are pertecting us. But I'm sorry your away from your family near Christmas. I hope you are o.k. and I hope you can see your family again. If you watch football, the Small Bears won the championship. The Raiders are in second place. It was a good game, it was 18 to 12. I hope you win the war. If you don't die can you please write me back? I'll write to you again.
P.S. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We're thinking of you. -– MEMPHIS (3RD GRADE)
From a girl to her brother who's in the Army:
DEAR TIMMY: I want to fill you in on what has been going on. First of all, Mom and Dad have split up. Now Dad has someone else named Theresa. Her little girl is one of my friends. Me and Mom now live in an apartment. I am in forth grade now. I even have my own locker. I go to the same school, but now I'm getting into an after school program. Thank you for risking your life for us. Your sister –- ANDREA
DEAR SERVICEMAN: I'm 13. I'm a very nice girl. I like to sing, dance, play video games, talk on the phone and listen to my CD player. Thank you for protecting our country and my family. You left your home to fight for us. Thanks to you, a lot of people are still alive. You put your lives in danger and that is really brave. You should get a gold medal. I felt really sad when I heard terrorists bombed New York and the Pentagon and killed so many innocent people. I think whoever was in charge of the bombing should be killed. You are heroes and nobody will ever forget you. -– KYANA, CANOGA PARK, CALIF.
And these, from a Webelos Boy Scout Troop in Tennessee:
DEAR SOULDIER: Hope you make it back to your family. Have a happy new year. I know how it fells. My dad got killed in the war when I was four. I have a new dad now, and I'm sad about all those kids who lost their mom and dad. Hope it stops -– DYLAN
DEAR SODLER: I'm African Amircan. Please, please, please kick realy kick kick Afghanistan's B-U-T-T. And I'm not jokin'. -– MALCOLM. P.S. Please don't die. Come back to your family in once peace. Please!!!!!!!!!
And last, from a budding humanitarian:
DEAR AIRMAN: I am 12 years old and in 8th grade. I like to play football as a cornerback blocking the receiver. I also like videogames. Thank you for joining the U.S. Air Force. Also for risking your life at wars or in other dangerous situations. Thanks for being there when needed and for putting up shelter for hurt people and sending them food, clothing, water and other useful supplies. -– NEPHTALI IN CALIFORNIA
So, Dear Readers, I hope this sample was ample and you enjoyed them as much as I did.
Thanks to the Department of Defense, OperationDearAbby.net is now year-round. It serves all branches of our armed forces. All messages are relayed to our troops via a secure military site so they can be beamed to a ship in the middle of the ocean, a submarine under the sea, or downloaded to a cave in Afghanistan.
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Please join me on OperationDearAbby.net in telling our troops how much they are loved and appreciated on Valentine's Day and every day.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600