DEAR ABBY: Your advice to "Proud of My Friend" in Wisconsin (8-7), to give their friends who have just become U.S. citizens an American flag, was great. To make the gift "extra" special, "Proud" could first have the flag flown over the U.S. Capitol building, and then present it to their friends with a certificate stating the day it was flown.
All congressional offices provide this service for their constituents, charging only for the cost of the flag and shipping. (Flags can be purchased for as little as $15.) Please encourage these folks -- and any others who would like to mark a special occasion, memorial or honor -- to contact their congressional representative. And if they are not sure who their representatives are, they should "fire up their computers" and visit � HYPERLINK "http://www.house.gov" ��www.house.gov� and enter their ZIP code. (Most representatives have forms and information on flags on their Web sites.) -- FORMER CONGRESSIONAL STAFFER IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR FORMER STAFFER: Thank you not only for your kind words, but for providing so much information for Dear Abby readers about how to order these special keepsakes. While many of the readers who commented about that letter agreed that an American flag is an appropriate gift for any new citizen, I also received some other worthwhile suggestions. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: While your idea was a good one, a more appropriate gift than a flag might be a copy of the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights. These can be purchased as posters and framed, or found on the Web in a form suitable for hanging. If someone is handy with Print Shop, it can be produced on his or her own PC.
I believe that people tend to forget that it's not the flag that we pledge to uphold when we swear in for public office, military duty or as new U.S. citizens, but the Constitution. While the flag is a common symbol, it is not truly what America is all about. -- REMEMBERS DUTY TO THE CONSTITUTION
DEAR ABBY: I would consider it a nice gesture if someone were to make me a scrapbook containing a few "Americana mementoes" (images of America or pictures with historical significance) sprinkled with a few traditions or family cooking and baking recipes. Romanians have a deep appreciation for the culinary arts, so one could never go wrong with giving them an all-American cookbook, or better yet, an all-American dessert cookbook! -- RIGHT HAND RAISED IN LOMA LINDA, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: "Proud of My Friend" asked about a suitable gift for friends who have just become U.S. citizens. The oak is our national tree, so if they have the space, perhaps an oak tree for their yard would be a lasting reminder of their new country. -- LINDA IN TUSTIN, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: I loved your idea about giving the newly sworn U.S. citizens an American flag. The family can hang it proudly, or buy a triangular display case to keep it in. The cases are advertised in catalogs and are very handsome. -- DONNA A. IN THE USA