Collection of war letters preserves our military past

DEAR READERS: Today marks the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I. In commemoration, I'm mentioning a special initiative to save America's war letters. Almost 20 years ago, I wrote about a historian, Andy Carroll, who had launched a project to seek out and preserve war-related letters as a way of honoring and remembering our veterans, troops, and their loved ones.

After the column appeared, Andy was deluged with responses. Today, that collection holds approximately 100,000 pieces of wartime correspondence - handwritten letters from during the American Revolution and Civil War to emails from Iraq and Afghanistan. Andy has donated the entire collection to Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and the project is now called the Center for American War Letters (CAWL).

This week, Andy and CAWL are kicking off an ambitious "Million Letters Campaign." Andy will travel nationwide, speaking at public libraries, museums, VFW and American Legion posts, civic groups, places of worship, military academies, and more to explain the importance of these writings and to encourage people to share with him their own war-related correspondence. If you know of someone who has war letters, please share this information so the stories and voices of the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our nation will be preserved.

Andy would love to meet in person anyone with letters to contribute to this "Million Letters Campaign" and is always seeking new venues. If you know of a place where he should speak, email him about it. For families who have letters but who cannot attend, submissions can be sent to Andrew Carroll/CAWL Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, Calif. 92866. (Originals are preferred, but scans are also appreciated.)

Ultimately, Andy and CAWL are seeking letters from all American wars, on any subject matter. For information on how to attend or to invite Andy to your community, visit www.WarLetters.us.

Only prom date's mom will know for sure

DEAR ABBY: My son, "Tom," is a senior in high school. About a month ago, he asked a girl named "Allie" to the prom. She said yes. Allie's mom is a hairdresser. My husband and I don't know her or her husband.

Allie's mother has asked two people about us. One of them told us about it; the other I heard about secondhand. So last week, I introduced myself to her at a local function. We spoke briefly, and I told her I would be in touch. A few days ago, I called to invite her out for coffee and left a message with my phone number. She hasn't called me back. What can I do to get to know Allie's mother better?

- Prom Mom

DEAR PROM MOM: Make an appointment to have your hair done, and you'll have at least an hour with her.