Dear Readers: On Monday we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a martyr of the civil rights movement and a great American who was shot to death in 1968 at age 39.

His persistence in the face of violent opposition and his eloquent pleas for social justice propelled him to international prominence. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. King's principles of nonviolence were based on the teachings of Christianity.His words of wisdom are even more meaningful today than they were in 1963, when he spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said (in part):

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: `We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.' . . . And this will be the day . . . when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, `My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where our fathers died, land of the Pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.'

"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, `Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.' "

God bless our great country, the United States of America. And may we Americans, by our conduct, be worthy of God's blessings.

Dear Abby: I am an elementary school teacher in a suburban area of a large metropolitan city. I have a good student I'll call Judy who is in training to become a hypochondriac. This little girl misses approximately 25 percent of school days in any given month. She complains of migraines, stomach flu and colds and has been plagued by numerous injuries. She stays home for minor ailments that I would send my own kids to school with.

Judy has learned to enjoy the attention she receives from her "illnesses" and "injuries" and plays them like an accomplished actress. Her parents seem to be conscientious about her schooling, and her assignments are always completed at home. Her stay-at-home mother dotes excessively on her daughter's complaints and encourages this negative behavior. This could well become a lifelong behavior trait for Judy. Should I continue to overlook the obvious as long as the child's assignments are completed, or should I bring up this subject with Judy's mother?

- Teacher in Texas

Dear Teacher: Is it possible that something is going on at school that is causing Judy's excessive absenteeism - like teasing, bullying or some other social problem?

The mother should be made aware that her daughter's absences are excessive, if she doesn't already know it. You would be doing Judy and her mother a favor by bringing your concerns forward in a parent-teacher meeting.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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1997 Universal Press Syndicate



All of the Dear Abby columns for the past several years are available online. Search for "DEAR ABBY" in the Lifestyle section and the Deseret News archives.

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