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COL Veterans Day springs from agonizing time

Dear Annie: A singular moment in American history, "the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month," marked the instant when a hush fell over the 1918 battlefields of World War I. Born of that agonizing time was Veterans Day. It is the one day a year that we pause to pay tribute to those who have given us the nation we cherish today.

At the Department of Veterans Affairs, our mission is to "care for those who have borne the battle." We do that by offering high quality health care, benefits and compensation, and memorial services at more than 1,400 locations across the country.

This year, as we honor our veterans, may I suggest that we all look to volunteer some of our time at one of these facilities? An hour or two a week reading to the sick at a VA hospital or writing letters for patients at a VA nursing home would mean a great deal to these aging heroes. Docents at our national cemeteries, and aides at more than 850 outpatient clinics, help us to help veterans and their families.

To become a VA volunteer, please contact your nearest VA facility, or visit our Web site, www.va.gov/volunteer. Offering your time and talents to help our veterans is a fitting tribute to their service and a lasting honor for those who have gone before. -- Sincerely, Anthony J. Principi, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Dear Secretary Principi: Thank you for giving us this opportunity to urge our readers to volunteer their time at one of the VA facilities throughout the country. We need to let our veterans know how much we appreciate their sacrifices.

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Dear Annie: I just received a wedding invitation for the daughter of a family friend. We have known the family for many years. The problem is, this is the second wedding in five years for "Cheri." Her first wedding was chalked up to an "oops." Because this is the groom's first wedding, it will be a big, elaborate event.

Cheri and her fiance both are professionals, with college educations, stable incomes and nice homes. I spent $100 on the first wedding gift, which the bride still has in her kitchen. I find the elaborate second wedding very tacky.

Am I required to spend money on another wedding present? Also, I hear there are bridal showers being planned. I already gave shower gifts the first time around. What is my obligation for these second weddings and second showers? Haven't I already spent enough? -- Second-Wedding-Bankruptcy-Blues in South Dakota

Dear S.D.: According to Emily Post, those who were invited to a shower for the first marriage should not be invited to a shower for the second, unless they are close relatives and very dear friends who would want to be there. However, if you do attend either the shower or the wedding, you should send a gift.

Dear Annie: I am "Boston, Mass.," whose unemployed fiance, "Tom," played videogames all day. You said he was discouraged and maybe depressed, and I should help him with his job hunt and resume. More recently, you printed some letters from readers who disagreed with your advice. They said I should throw him out.

Well, good news: Tom found a job and has passed his first exam toward an advanced certification for a better one. In the evenings, he operates a small eBay business. He is committed to ensuring I do not have to dip into my savings for wedding expenses, and he's put aside an impressive amount for our honeymoon.

I think his problems with initiative had a lot to do with moving to a new state, perhaps a touch of depression and a lack of self-confidence. He's doing great, and I am proud of him. Your advice was right on the money! -- Glad I Kept Him in Boston

Dear Boston: Our readers love to hear how the stories turn out. Thanks for letting us know.

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Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailboxcomcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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