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It's a strange situation. Other than praying for them, and perhaps calling attention to the mendacity and duplicity that put them there in the first place, there doesn't seem to be much we on the homefront can do to help the brave American men and women who are being shot at every day over in Iraq.

Our most profound wish is that they could come home tomorrow. Given the current political climate, however, that is impossible.

So we were somewhat gladdened this week when we received an e-mail from Michael Spencer, a Buffalo librarian. His son, Capt. David Spencer, is an officer with the 173rd Airborne, one of the hardest-charging outfits in the whole of the military. The young captain had no complaints, but a simple request.

"Lots of guys here read novels," he wrote his father. "A lot of them spend time sitting in safe houses where they have time to read. I've heard mention of a book exchange, where people could drop off and pick up books. I'm getting a bookcase to put in our front 'lobby,' and now we will need some books.

"I will have room for up to about 200 novels or so, and would like to get a bunch of books to start them. Suppose they don't all have to be novels, as long as it's interesting reading. Classics are fine, as these guys read just about anything they can get their hands on."

So what do you say, Niagara? Let's get these people some books. Not only are they being shot at on our behalf, but it's 120 degrees over there and Iraq is notoriously devoid of nightlife.

It's not very expensive. Just put your book in an envelope and send it to:

CPT David Spencer
Task Force 1-63 Armor
c/o 173rd Airborne Brigade
APO AE 09347

Tell the person at the post office you want the "media mail" rate, and it'll be cheaper than if you were sending it to Williamsville. You also might want to include a little note thanking Capt. Spencer and his comrades for their sacrifices.

The first shipment left the Reporter offices late last week. We're counting on you to make sure it's not the last.

Update, Oct. 29, 2003: For more on how you can support our troops, visit www.defendamerica.mil/support_troops.html.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com October 21 2003