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WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Maybe you are a young reader or a person of a certain age, like me, which stops you from donating blood or offering to physically volunteer to dig at the World Trade Center (in any case, they now only need professionals), and you find they are overwhelmed with food, water and clothing.

Still, you constitute part of the authentic bastion of patriots who still want to do something to sacrifice and help your nation.

What can you do? I think the most important thing for citizens of any age -- for themselves and for their Uncle Sam and as a tribute to the thousands who likely died -- would be to call a broker and buy stock in American companies this week -- and next week and the next. As we want to heal the wounded, we need to help shore up the U.S. fiscal situation.

I was reminded this week of an old cartoon in which a character clutches his head and exclaims: "World War III? But what about my career?" Yes. It "was" funny. Now, everybody wants and hopes to "go back to normal," and I believe it will help if you start working very hard indeed. This, however, is a time to stop worrying about your future, your "career," your nest egg. Become a willing consumer again.

Buy things! Do things! Go to the theater, to movies, to restaurants, to shops, to department stores and to sports events when they happen.

Now is not the time for fiscal frugality. Buy magazines and newspapers and books. Stay informed.

Wait a bit, and then go offer to give blood, provided you are not older than 75. Call before you go. Memorize your blood type. The blood banks are full, but there is no question there will be a future need.

Give what money you can to some approved organization. My personal favorites are the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. Both of them have performed heroically in the past week and over time.

Go to church. Vote. Hang out with people. Talk to your neighbors and people on the street. Get in a 12-step group. Tell everybody who will listen how you feel. Rejoice that the '70s denigration of police and firefighters is finally over in this nation and celebrate these heroes.

Study how we can heal and help protect America. Don't think about revenge. Rise above prejudice. Remember that the United States needs an alliance with the Muslim world to defeat this terrifying and stupid fundamentalism that is an affliction on civilization.

Remembering our best friends: Many have expressed their worry about pets trapped in abandoned apartments and buildings or elsewhere. Kudos to the ASPCA Animal Disaster Relief Fund, which has set up a command center at Pier 40.

Emergency evacuations are being organized. Call (212) 876-7700, ext. 4741, if you know a missing person who might have had a pet. Last weekend, this organization rescued more than 100 animals. Actress Drew Barrymore has given them a huge donation.

Doing one heck of a job: Why hasn't anybody yet offered Mayor Rudy Giuliani his new title? What might it be? Chief rebuilder of New York City? King of the world? I have always liked this mayor, but criticized him for deciding to be a guardian of public morals over art works, and I wasn't crazy about his behavior with his wife. But now, forget that. Nothing is too good for this man. I see a Medal of Freedom in his future.

Question: If what the terrorists did was "an act of war," then why can't the government simply step in and help the airlines without all this cavil about overhelping questionable economic entities? They are more than just businesses. They are lifelines.

An "act of war" was not their fault. And we need them more than ever.

I guess it would be out of the question to suggest that now would be a fine time to rebuild the nation's railroads, just "in case" we might need them, and to take some of the strain off the overburdened highways.

Wait for it -- the million-dollar pledges from Streisand, Cruise, Schwarzenegger, Hanks, Spielberg, and all the rest to help rebuild New York City and aid its victims' families.

Is there any good news? Well, now we don't have to care about Anne Heche's book getting on the best-seller list, or worry about Whitney's health or whether Mariah will get her act together and no one will care why Tom and Nicole broke up. Instead of writing her jewelry book, maybe Elizabeth Taylor should sell her stuff and donate the money. She is essentially too good to waste any more time restoring Michael Jackson's reputation.

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