Reprinted from yesteday's editions.
The short woman with the graying hair waited near the door, her eyes watchful for movement. She had not seen him for 23 years. He had been her commander when they were both in the Irgun Zvai Leumi.
"He was like a father, the most humane. No, not tough," she said. "To be in the Irgun (National Military Organization) you had to be strong and dedicated. It wasn't a game."
Suddenly, a flurry and people burst through the door. The woman surged forward, thrusting her hand across the velvet rope that defined the boundaries - 2,000 men, women and children on one side and Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin on the other. "Menahem," the woman called, "I never forgot you."
He paused, searching the shadows of the Shoreham Americana's Regency Room but appeared to be blinded by lights of the cameras.
"Thank you, my dear," he said, eyes void of recognition, "God Bless you."
For Irene Straus it had been recognition enough. She turned away, her own eyes brimming with tears.
Emotion and expectation, too, from others awaited Menahem Begin Wednesday as he made his rounds of a reception for leading members of the Jewish communities, foreign envoys and representatives of business: Israeli Ambassador Smicha Dinitz gave the reception, as he also gave Wednesday's dinner for Begin at the National Portrait Gallery.
A little later, after Vice President Walter Mondale arrived - and also Israeli-born Rina Messsinger, Miss Universe of 1976 - he told the crowd:
"The visit to the United States, to Washington, to the President of the United States and his closest collaborators can now be defines as a real success for the United States and Israel and indeed for human liberty."
Ladies and gentlemen, I came to the shore of the United States a hopeful man and will be leaving the United States a happy one."
At Wednesday's dinner, there were more old friends. ("We have a nice collection of friends," said Dinitz) this time in black tie but also dining kosher.
Mondale, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and presidential assistants Stuart Eizenstat and Hamilton Jordan were there from the administration.
But so were former Vice President Nelson Rockfeller and former Sectretary of State Henry Kissinger. It was like "old home week" for Kissinger, who said he had a "brilliant plan (for peace in the Middle East) but since nobody asked me, to hell with them."
Joking that "I had my chance but I didn't have the plan, now I have the plan I don't have the chance," he muttered something about it being one of the "tragedies of life," and drifted off toward dinner.