Bill Beusell, a Loudoun County trucker, shifted the angle of his Ford cap yesterday inside the Sterling Park Hardware store and grabbed a handful of white armbands each bearing a black "50".
"This ain't strong enough," Beusell said of the armbands designed by the store's owner, 38-year old Bob Zatig, to demonstrate public support for 50 American hostages in Iran.
"You've got to be tough with those suckers. We should hit them with the Marines within 24 hours of the takeover -- and I mean hit 'em hard." Beusell said, adding that he would pass out some of the armbands to fellow truckers.
Beusell was one of several customers at the Loudoun County store yesterday who took along free armbands with their purchases. About 5,000 of the armbands were printed by Charles Grant of the GAM (for Grace Abounding Ministries) Printing Co. in Sterling, Va. and distributed yesterday by Grant, Zatig, and Dorothy Sessions of the Sterling Floors store on Rte. 606.
Zatig said he was inspired by the action of Herndon mailman Bob Georgetti.
Georgetti wore an armband over his Postal Service shirt last Friday as a sign of support fro the hostages, but went home when told that regulations forbade the wearing of armbands. His action apparently persuaded U.S. Postmaster General William F. Bolger to change the regulations, and some letter carriers in Herndon and Annandale now are wearing plain white armbands.
Zatig calls the armbands he designed "a small token of our frustration . . . Not that many people know we have them yet. We gave some to a high school student who works part time here and he's passed them all out and called back for more."
Jack Jennings of Sterling, a customer clad in a blue windbreaker with a U.S. flag on the shoulder, said he thought the armbands a good idea. "We can't forget them," he said of the hostages."They belong to us. I'd want somebody to think about me if I was over there."
Grant, who used an offset press to imprint the armbands, said, "we ought to show concern and pray for the hostages' safe return."
He said he fears the Iranian crisis is symbolic of "God's judgment against our people . . . for legalizing abortion" among other things.
"It's a bad situation," said hardware store manager Karen Ruud, 23, of Chantilly. "Maybe this [the armbands] will help more people in the U.S. pull together.
"A friend of mine was talking about the funeral for the Marine who was killed in Pakistan. Somebody read a letter about how the fanatics seem to live and get away with this. It doesn't seem fair," Ruud said.