Newspapers, including this one, and newswriters, including this one, make mistakes, which for the most part are corrected in a column published in subsequent editions. The column sometimes is embarrassingly long, but it always amazes me how many of the thousands of purported facts printed each day in this newspaper -- and others -- actually are correct.

But what does one do when an error is not on a newspaper's flimsy newsprint but cast in bronze?

Consider the plaque in the main reception lounge of the Bob Hope USO Building, the organization's national headquarters on Indiana Avenue NW, dedicated last week at a ceremony attended by its honoree.

At first blush -- especially given the recent flap over the presidential visit to the Bitburg cemetery where some Waffen SS troopers are buried -- it was gratifying to note that among foreign governments the one based in Bonn was the only donor to the development of the Hope USO Building.

But the plaque recognizes something called the "Republic of West Germany."

Are we here in Washington saying Germany is divided forever, or shouldn't we be calling the benefactor by its right name: the "Federal Republic of Germany"?

And, good heavens, another contributor memorialized on the same bronze plaque at the Hope building is "Fort Myer Officer's Wives."

Which officer? How many wives? Bridge Contradiction

Plaques and signs are today's total topic.

* After driving from National Airport to Capitol Hill, my newsroom colleague, John Means, called attention to signs approaching, and on, the northbound 14th Street bridge. As you leave the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Means said, you encounter a sign saying you're going to cross the "Rochambeau Bridge." But the bridge itself has a sign: "Arland D. Williams Memorial Bridge."

John knows the answer to the obvious question, as I do -- the bridge, first named for Revolutionary War leader Jean Rochambeau, recently was renamed for a hero of the Air Florida crash. But nobody has gotten around to clearing up the contradictory signs.

* In National Airport's north terminal one day this week, one of the hydraulic facilities in a men's room was blocked. It was covered by a neatly lettered sign:


* And now, applause for Metro. Last Saturday's column reported the latest of several episodes of vandalism of the sign that directs subway passengers from the McPherson Square station toward the White House.

The ink had hardly dried on the column noting the vandalism before Metro's maintenance people arrived to repair the sign, which now once again points tourists in the right direction.