There were ceremonial blue-and-silver plates bearing the emblem of the District of Columbia and framed resolutions exalting "courage," "selfless responses" and "an unsurpassed grasp of the sensitive issues involved."
But mostly there was an exchange of heartfelt thanks yesterday, as D.C. city officials and one-time captives of 12 Hanafi gunmen gathered to honor three Islamic ambassadors who played a key role in ending the two-day siege of three buildings in the city earlier this month.
"As we honor the three ambassadors, we want you to know that we honor all of you," said City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker. "Those who suffered and those who served, they all are heroes."
"We have done so little," responded Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi of Iran. "It is like a drop in the sea, and you have showered us with kindness."
Yesterday's hour-long ceremony in the City Council chambers was the first official city action commemorating the end of the takeover march 9 and 10 when 12 Hanafi Muslims held 124 persons hostage.
At noon Wednesday, the city is scheduled to dedicate a plaque in memory of Maurice Williams, 24-year-old radio reporter who was slain when two Muslims burst into City Council offices down the hall from yesterday's ceremony.
Honored along with Zahedi were Ambassadors Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan of Pakistan and Ashraf Ghorbal of Egypt. Each received a ceremonial plate from Mayor Walter E. Washington and copies of honoring resolutions sponsored by Council member Douglas E. Moore (D-at large).
More than 100 persons present gave several standing ovations, including one for District Building security guard Mack W. Cantrell, who was wounded in the fact by a shot gun blast. It was the first time most of those present had seen Cantrell since the March 9 incident.
Police Chief Maurice J. Cullinane who, along with the ambassadors helped negotiate an end to the siege, said of the three ambassadors, "We were together only for 39 hours, but in that time we became very deep and very personal friends."
City Council member Marion Barry (D-at large), wounded in the chest during the early moments of the District Building takeover, was absent from yesterday's ceremony. A spokesperson said Barry was not feeling well and spent the morning in bed.