May 30, 2002 11:00 pm

The World War II section that The Observer published on Memorial Day was intended as a way to honor men and women who served in the war. The section was long overdue and probably should have been done years ago while most of the veterans were still alive.

THE OBSERVER IS PROUD of what it was able to produce, considering the lack of public historical records available. We had to rely on veterans and families of veterans to submit information and photos. We also compiled lists of names from newspaper clippings, from the Signal Mountain historical magazine, from yearbooks, from induction lists provided by veterans, from the Union Service Record. Still, we realized there would be names we would miss.

The effort to produce the most complete listing of Union and Wallowa counties' WWII veterans didn't become a complete listing. For that we're sorry. We acknowledged along the way a complete listing would not be possible. We began soliciting names in February and extended the deadline from April 1 to May 1, when we had to begin preparing the pages. We ended up with nearly 300 photo bios and another 1,200 names. We probably came up about 500 to 1,000 shy of the number of people from Union and Wallowa counties who served in the war.

NOW THAT THE SECTION has been published, we're hearing from people whose names or the names of families were left out. We're compiling those so that we can publish an addendum, or, hopefully, a second edition next year.

The section was a labor of love for the employees of The Observer. It was intended as an honor. No one, we can assure you, was left out intentionally. And although we weren't able to include as much information about those veterans who filled out forms as we would have liked, nor able to run as many pictures or memories as were submitted, we published as much information as space would allow. In fact, we more than doubled the amount of space available for news (stories and information about veterans and names) because of the significance of this project.

If The Observer had stuck to industry standards on news and advertising, the section would have been about 40 pages rather than 64. Also, we added a couple of extra pages to Monday's paper so that we could accommodate more of the information that was submitted.

We've heard from a lot of people who appreciated the section and what we tried to accomplish. But we have heard from some who are dismayed, for one reason or another. The reaction wasn't totally unexpected considering the enormity of the project. But it is somewhat disheartening.

The goal of the section was to honor World War II veterans. We intend, in the years head, to do the same for veterans of the Korea and Vietnam wars. That the section wasn't as complete, or as inclusive, as we would have liked is a disappointment. We hope to do an addendum or a second edition to make the compilation more complete.

But no one can take away the effort and the respect that went into the section that was published Monday. The section was intended, and stands, as a tribute.