Aftermath of a Failure: Anguished Families, a Resignation in Protest and a Grim Postmortem
The tokens of hope remained. Most of the hostages' kin wore American flags near their hearts. Bows of yellow ribbon (from the 1972 popular song about a man returning home after a long absence) were fixed to their lapels and blouses as symbols of unity and patience. A few relatives gathered outside the hotel to tie a ribbon around a tree (as in the song). Some were buoyed by Navy Capt. Richard Stratton, a former Vietnam POW, and his wife, Alice, who came to their meeting and counseled faith. "This country will not desert the hostages any more than it deserted me," he said. But the news that greeted them when the weekend was over was not good: The nation had lost its Secretary of State to the debate over the rescue mission (page 32), military and intelligence experts here and abroad had begun what promised to be a long, contentious postmortem (page 34)—and the hostages were no closer to freedom.