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President Pays Tribute to Hostages : Orders Tree Lights Dimmed in Honor of Lebanon Captives

December 25, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan, planning a traditional Christmas at the White House, telephoned holiday greetings Tuesday to five servicemen stationed overseas and ordered the lights of the national Christmas tree dimmed in honor of Americans held hostage in Lebanon.

In a letter to families of the hostages, Reagan said, "You have my solemn vow that we will not rest until all the members of our American families now being held hostage are returned home to their loved ones.

"Because millions of your fellow countrymen share your burden, I have ordered that the lights of the national Christmas tree be dimmed on Christmas Eve as a sign of our prayerful solidarity with those who are not with their loved ones at Christmas," Reagan said.

White House Gathering

The President and First Lady Nancy Reagan planned to spend Christmas Eve, as has been their custom, at the home of Charles Z. Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency. Today, the Reagans will gather at the White House with family and friends for a traditional dinner of roast turkey with chestnut dressing and giblet gravy.

Guests will include the President's daughter, Maureen, and her husband, Dennis Revell; Dr. Richard Davis, Mrs. Reagan's stepbrother, and his family; actress Claudette Colbert, a family friend who currently is performing at the Kennedy Center; former Reagan aide Michael K. Deaver and his wife, Carolyn; Nancy Reynolds, a friend of Mrs. Reagan; and the Wicks.

The Reagans leave the White House Friday for a brief stay in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Before returning to Washington, the President will meet with Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid in Mexicali, Mexico, on Jan. 3.

The White House said the servicemen who received individual telephone calls from the President "were recommended by the Department of Defense because they are on duty and are representative of their unit."

They were Senior Airman Bruce A. Brown, a New Hampshire native stationed with the Air Force at Malayta, Turkey; Seaman Recruit Jeffrey Kent Nelson, 18, Little Rock, Ark., serving aboard the destroyer Scott in the Indian Ocean; Electronic Technician 2nd Class James Kermitz, 22, serving with the Coast Guard at Kargabarun, Turkey; Sgt. Thomas C. Bushman, 20, of Dixon, Ill., the President's boyhood hometown, who is with the Army at Camp Hof, Germany; and Lance Cpl. Christopher O. Pearson, 20, of Trappe, Md., a Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

The White House released excerpts from the telephone conversations in which the President said, among other things, "All of us who are home for Christmas owe a great debt to you for the sacrifices you are making."

Reagan was also quoted as saying, "The religious freedom which enables us to celebrate Christmas comes as a result of what you are doing, and we are deeply grateful."

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