The long ordeal is now over. The Americans illegally seized in Tehran over 14 months ago should be resting and recuperating at an American hospital in West Germany by the time you read this.

I won't comment on the madness and methods that resulted in the loss of personal liberty for our countrymen. The mere thought that so many of our patriots could be held for so long by any other government was almost unthinkable in the not too distant past. Now that this episode has been largely resolved, it is contingent on our new national leaders to make sure it never happens again.

What I will comment on is the outpouring of concern for the hostages that found expression through "For the Love of Children." Scores of contributors tied their gifts for Children's Hospital to messages of concern, despair, outrage and hope for our hostages. They didn't need a reason to give, but as the days of captivity dragged by, many needed a vent for their mounting feelings of frustration.

As recently as two weeks ago, an anonymous donor sent me $300 in memory of the valiant Americans who died in the ill-fated rescue attempt.

The media will be faced with many responsibilities in concluding their coverage of the hostage affair over the next few months. How our negotiations with the Iranians concerning the transfer of assets and the settling of legitimate claims are perceived by the rest of the world may well make the difference between a future marred with such terrorist incidents or one where would-be kidnappers realize they will gain nothing from the abduction of U.S. citizens.

It is my hope that the lessons to be learned from this incident will prove sufficient to prevent a similar episode in the years ahead.

The flash of events during the last few days, including the inauguration of our 40th president and the hostage release, has had little effect on our mail pipeline. Letters continue to trickle in at a slow pace.

This morning 30 concerned District Liners combined resources to direct $535 to the free care fund at Our Town's Children's Hospital. This fund, you may recall, provides free or low cost medical treatment to needy children regardless of the parents' ability to pay for such care.

Leading today's list of organization contributors was a check for $15 from some unnamed carolers in Annandale. The Kiwanis Club of Falls Church sent in another $20, boosting their earlier contribution.

Employes at the Baskins-Robbins Ice Cream Store in Fairfax City devised a unique formula for giving to Children's Hospital four years ago. Each time an ice cream cake decorated with Snoopy or one of his Peanuts friends is sold, a nickel of the profit goes to their "Snoopy Fund."

Last year 550 cakes depicting Peanuts characters were sold for a total of $27.50 in the fund.They rounded that off to $40. Next year the Snoopy fund will get a dime per cake. Thanks!

Second year participants at Providence Savings and Loan Association in Vienna collected $119.64 through the non-exchange of Christmas cards at their office. They made an unnecessary apology for the amount, blamed inflation, and concluded with sincere hopes that we reach our goal.

Members of the Fortnightly Club and Library Association of Herndon are "very much interested in the welfare of children." Reflecting that concern was their very generous check of $200 for the free care fund.

The folks at Foster Associates Inc. here in town continued "our annual employe contribution in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards among coworkers." That tradition netted $220 for our needy young patients.

Two checks totaling $230 came from the messengers at Arlington Courier Enterprises. The checks were sent in memory of one of their colleagues, the last person murdered in the District in 1980. He loved children, and would have wanted to help them in this way.

Once again, the men and women who work for The George Hyman Construction Co. elected to send a holiday contribution to Children's Hospital. They matched the date, dollar for dollar with their fantastic gift of $1,980! More than 70 employes and their families participated.

Those eight groups added $2,824.64 to the $535 contributed by 30 District Liners for a daily total of $3,359.64. Inasmuch as the famous shoebox held $149,425.97 yesterday, a good guess would put today's year-to-date total at $152,785.61.