U.S.A.

The final frenzy

RITA CHRISTOPHER February 9 1981
U.S.A.

The final frenzy

RITA CHRISTOPHER February 9 1981

The final frenzy

Spectators stood 15-deep in places, rhythmically chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! ” as 22 of the former hostages rode up lower Broadway in what Mayor Edward Koch had promised would be the biggest parade in New York’s history. More than the traditional ticker tape floated into the canyons of Manhattan’s financial district as enthusiastic office workers tossed everything from newspapers to shredded phone books. From vintage automo biles the former hostages waved to the; crowds with such obvious vigor that i was difficult to remember they wen completing an exhausting week o round-the-clock celebration.

Proceedings began on a serious nob in President Ronald Reagan’s Rose Garden welcome. “When the rules of international behavior are violated, our policy will be one of swift, effective retribution,” he said. While at his first news conference later, Reagan announced the United States would honor its bargain with the Khomeini regime but warned Americans against travelling or doing business in Iran. Foreign policy took a back seat, however, as the former captives found themselves at the centre of frenzied national festivities. What was to have been a short ride from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to their official White House greetings turned into a triumphal progress through a crowd of 250,000 Washingtonians. Two million cheered them in New York, by which time the people who initially had appeared overwhelmed by the attention were

working the crowds like old pros.

For politicians, the joyful homecoming celebrations were a chance to have a little hero dust rub off on their candidacies. In New York, opponents charged Koch with organizing his elaborate ticker tape parade to launch his own bid for a second term in a splash of reflected glory. But New Yorkers cheered lustily anyway, especially for Brooklyn native Barry Rosen, a prisoner little more than a week before and now a media superstar.

There was caution in with the relief, however. Said one aging New Yorker watching children eagerly throwing confetti: “Let the kids enjoy themselves. The United States should never have another crisis like this—hopefully.”

RITA CHRISTOPHER