Dear Ann:

Please print this on Veterans Day. I'm sure every vet (and his or her family) who sees it will be proud.

Tom in Tacoma, Wash.

Here it is, with pleasure -- an extra salute, and richly deserved. Thank you for asking.

WHAT IS A VET?

You can't tell a vet just by looking.

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth whose frat-boy behavior is outweighed in the cosmic scales by four hours of unparalleled bravery near the 38th Parallel in Korea.

She is the nurse who fought against futility in Da Nang and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another.

He is the drill instructor who has never seen combat, but has saved countless lives by turning lazy no-accounts into Marines and teaching them to watch one another's backs.

He is the parade-riding legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the white-haired old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp.

A vet is an ordinary and extraordinary human being -- someone who offered his life's most vital years in the service of his country.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. We will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude we owe.

And now, dear readers, here is a provocative piece by a clergyman who is also a member of the U.S. Marine Corps:

VETERANS DAY

By Fr. Denis Edward O'Brien, USMC

It is the soldier, not the reporter,

Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,

Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,

Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag,

Who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Dear Ann:

I am a neighbor who is aware of the following situation: A 12-year-old, seventh-grade girl has started to enjoy the attention of a boy in her class. At first, they had hour-long talks on the phone.

After a few weeks, her parents began to treat him as if he were one of her girlfriends. He is invited to spend Friday or Saturday night with them. The bedroom he stays in is next to hers. Her parents' bedroom is on the other side of the house.

Her parents did not know this boy nor his family until this relationship started a few weeks ago. Any advice?

Concerned Friend, No City, No State

The advice is for you: MYOB.