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BY SUSAN SCHWARZ, valley dispatch contributor

I hope every person who ever marched in protest, voiced an opinion or wrote a letter protesting something or someone, took a moment on Veterans Day to thank those men and women who gave so much of themselves to insure we have the right to do these things.

We owe so much to these people and many of us never stop to think how lucky we are to be surrounded by others with the same freedom of thoughts that we have. Wouldn’t it be hard to have to really consider how deeply you felt about a cause knowing that one wrong word would find you in a jail or simply gone? Thank you. I appreciate the time, efforts and sacrifice you and all your families have made so that I, mine and later generations will enjoy freedom.

With that in mind, there is a freedom in this country that we really do take for granted. Did you read the paper this morning or last night? How many different opinions were expressed in only one issue? How far do you think these reporters would get in some other countries? Would anyone dare write a letter criticizing the government and sign it in some countries and the ads — think some of the countries that keep women in the long coverings would allow some of them?

Then I saw a small item buried on one of the pages about a group forcing books off the shelves in a library and I realize how easy it is to ignore problems until they are yours. Yes, even though a lot of blood has been spilled to insure you can read whatever you want, there are those who would remove this freedom because they don’t like what you are reading or doing or thinking. Removing the right to make decisions based on information is a right that must be protected.

Remember that making informed decisions is based on knowledge, and knowledge generally comes from reading in a variety of sources.

With that in mind, it is time to look for some books that will give you food for thought in one way or another starting with Dee Wilson’s Holiday Candy Confections. Just the cover puts inches where I don’t want them. Start the year off with a holiday marzipan lucky pig, move on to the real chocolate kiss and then to candy canes and chocolate rum balls (I want some NOW.)

Less fattening is the Ogden Nature Centers guide to Nature Printing. The illustrations are beautiful. Take your time, follow the directions and bring nature into your home in the nicest way possible.

How apropos after the previous comments that one of the new books in is Floyd Abrams Speaking Freely, which is a collection of trials and legal battles involving the First Amendment. Some of these battles may surprise you.

On a different note, we in this country seem to be facing a rash of teen depression. Dr. Lisa Machoian is working to help adults learn to recognize the warning signs, especially in girls and young women. The Disappearing Girl is not an easy book to read, but one that every parent who might have any questions should at least be aware is here.

Along with finding out how to recognize warning signs, you might like to learn to read Body Language and Susan Quilliam will show you how. After reading this I am going to be very careful of what I say or don’t say in how I stand, sit and move.

I will also be aware of one other book by Katherine Eban called Dangerous Doses. I am sure you have read about the counterfeiting of drugs but did you know how dangerous this could be to your health? Get your hands on this one and learn how to protect yourself.

Becoming informed is a good way to pass these dark days. See you soon.

Susan Schwarz is the director of Dracut’s Moses Greeley Parker Library.