I support the troops from the bottom of my heart. But my question is, do they know that? What if I'm somehow sending them the wrong message?

The other day I lost the magnetic yellow ribbon from my car, and I didn't even notice until my neighbor pointed it out. Just think: It could have fallen off days or even weeks before! And there I was: driving up and down all over town just as happy as you please, all but announcing, "Jane Merrick doesn't support our troops!"

I went to the gas station to buy another magnet right away, but they were sold out. So here I am without one. And the way everybody is around here, they'll talk. What if this gets back to the troops somehow?

Or take the other night when my husband and I were watching Leno. He cracked this wiseacre one-liner about the president, and it just busted Ted and me up. Then suddenly, we both trailed off and stared at each other in ominous silence. I'll admit the joke seemed harmless enough, but just imagine those poor soldiers, covered with the arid dust and sand of a foreign land, huddling for cover, engaging in pitched small-arms firefights with enemy insurgents on a daily basis. What would they think if they saw me sprawled out on the living-room sofa set, eating pretzels, cackling with irreverence at the expense of their commander in chief?

If I unwittingly sent a message to the troops that hurt their feelings, I am truly sorry. I would never knowingly make them feel that nobody back here in the homeland believed in them or thought they weren't incredibly special, which they are. I don't want to accidentally lower our troops' self-esteem, especially in a time of crisis like this. Maybe after the war is over, that may be the time to raise questions about our leaders and laugh at the TV hosts, but certainly not now. Right now, we have to think about the troops. And, even more important, the messages we may or may not be sending them.

What would the troops think about our yard? And I don't mean just about our flag. When I don't bag our leaves, am I basically saying, "To heck with you, troops"?

Are the troops aware of all the remodeling I've been doing in the basement rec room? If so, what message are they getting from that?

I read in the paper that a lot of the troops are complaining about the war, and want to come home. They're putting their lives on the line. It's my duty to support them, but I get confused. What message am I sending the troops if I read articles like that? For that matter, what kind of a message are those troops sending themselves? They are the troops, but it almost sounds like they're not supporting the troops!

I'm sorry. I didn't mean that last statement to sound anti-troops.

If the troops knew what I was thinking, what would they say? "First she has it one way, then she changes it all around"? Maybe they're saying, "Who does this lady think she is? She doesn't know what she wants! Our morale is sapped! We're losing our will to fight!" America would be defeated by Iraq, and terrorists would rule over us.

Oh gosh, no! I just want to clear up any possible misunderstandings over previous mixed messages I might have sent the troops.

I support them, and I implore them to provide me with any feedback they may have on how I might be adversely affecting their daily lives.