Ceremony Marks Anderson’s 1,000th Day as Hostage
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Terry Anderson’s family and friends marked his 1,000th day as a captive in Lebanon Thursday in a ceremony on Capitol Hill that combined prayers and pleas for his release.
The bitter milestone for Anderson, the longest-held of the 21 foreign hostages in Lebanon, fell on United Nations’ International Human Rights Day.
″I know that Terry must know we are all out there, caring, working for his freedom,″ said Peggy Say, Anderson’s sister, at the hourlong ceremony in an ornate, wood-paneled room in the Capitol.
Relatives of the hostages, members of Congress, State Department officials, personnel from the embassies of Algeria, Ireland and Lebanon and journalists were in attendance.
Phyllis Kaminsky, director of the U.N. information office, read a message from Javier Perez de Cuellar, the U.N. general secretary, condemning the taking of hostages.
″We at the United Nations join you in a strong appeal that all persons currently held hostage in whatever part of the world be released immediately,″ the message said.
The event was co-sponsored by No Greater Love, a humanitarian organization that works to support families directly affected by war and terrorism, and the Journalists Committee to Free Terry Anderson, a group formed to work for Anderson’s release.
Anderson, 40, the chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, was kidnapped March 16, 1985. He is among the 21 foreigners, including seven other Americans, missing in Lebanon. Two of the foreigners have remained unidentified.
Anderson’s captors, Islamic Jihad, or Islamic Holy War, is a Shiite Moslem faction believed loyal to Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In Anderson’s hometown of Lorain, Ohio, a new yellow ribbon went up Thursday outside City Hall, replacing the one hung in March on the second anniversary of his abduction, said Mayor Alex Olejko.
Jack LaVriha, chairman of the local Free Terry Anderson Committee, said that the realization of Anderson being held in captivity for 1,000 days is frustrating but that he still has hope. LaVriha, a retired newspaper reporter who became chairman of the committee four months after Anderson was captured, said he was sure that Anderson would be home by that Christmas of 1985.
″When you get to 1,000 days, it seems like the end of the world,″ LaVriha said. ″Those 1,000 days have probably been hell for him.″
In New York, about 130 AP staffers gathered in a conference room at the news agency’s headquarters for a moment of reflection and recollection.
And in a prayer vigil Thursday in Albany, N.Y., the Rev. Bede Ferrara said Anderson has been forgotten.
″There is not enough outrage by the American press, the American people, the American government and the churches,″ said Ferrara, who has tried to publicize the plight of the hostages.
″With words and prayers, we can turn this forgotten man into a remembered American and a free one.″
In the Washington ceremony, Walter R. Mears, the AP’s executive editor, said Anderson apparently has endured great deprivation in captivity, including being blindfolded, chained and held incommunicado.
″They don’t allow him to speak or write, compounding the brutality of his imprisonment for a man who has made communication of truth his life’s work,″ Mears said.
Anderson’s friends seek freedom for him and other hostages ″so anniversaries can again become times of joy instead of frustration and anger,″ he said.
Echoing that theme was Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who spoke briefly on the House floor before the ceremony got under way.
″I hope this will be the last time that we will have to remind ourselves of this man before he will be released,″ she said.
″How many more days?″ asked Thomas Cicippio of Norristown, Pa., the brother of hostage Joseph Cicippio.
Marilyn Langston of Malden, Mass., the daughter of hostage Frank Reed, could not stop her voice from wavering as she told of her daily prayers for ″this terrible nightmare to end.″
Also speaking at the solemn gathering were the Elaine Collett of New York, the wife of hostage Alec Collett, a British journalist affiliated with the United Nations; and Margaret Wilhite of Philadelphia, the sister-in-law of hostage Alann Steen, an American professor.
The group heard both Christian and Moslem prayers for the hostages’ release.
The ceremony concluded with music and a roll call for the 19 identified hostages in which young children stood in a line, each displaying the picture of a captive.
Politicians attending the ceremony included Sens. Daniel Moynihan, D-N.Y., Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y.; Robert Stafford, R-Vt., James McClure, R-Idaho; Strom Thurmond, R-S.C.; Reps. Slaughter; Lindy Boggs, D-La.; and Nick Rahall, D- W.Va.
Anderson, a native of Lorain, Ohio, was last heard from on Oct. 3, 1986, in a videotape released by his captors.
″We have no information on Anderson or any of the 21 foreigners missing in Lebanon,″ said a police spokesman in Lebanon speaking on condition he remain anonymous.
Besides Anderson, Cicippio, Reed and Steen, the American hostages are Thomas Sutherland, Edward Tracy, Robert Polhill and Jesse Turner.