In the stately, red-carpeted entrance of the Canadian Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue NW, flowers of gratitude sit on a marble table below the smiling eyes of Queen Elizabeth and Price Philip.
The telephones have been ringing since dawn. And on the office building next door, three-foot-high-letters, one to a window, spell it out: "THANKS CANADA" on the fifth floor, "MERCI BEAUCOUP" on the second.
The American public was saying thanks yesterday to the Canadian government.
Six Americans who evaded capture in the Nov. 4 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran hid in the Canadian Embassy there ever since and then escaped from Iran last weekend, using falsified Canadian passports.
"America has finally found a friend. It's nice to see an ally doing something for a change," said Susan T. Copenhaven, 27, an employe of Meridian House international and one of the people responsible for the "Merci Beaucoup" in the windows of her office.
"The Highway Users Federation upstairs came up with the idea. They thought that since we were a cultural exchange organization we should make a sign in French," said Meridian employe Lisa S. Smith, 24.
"It was spontaneous. . .People sometimes forget to say thank you," she said.
Through the days, Canadian Embassy personnel worked frantically to answer calls from more than 1,000 American people.
The words of thanks came from Kentucky and Gaithersburg, Albany, Oklahoma and California, from lawyers, retired Marines and a women's group of Republicans:
"Well done. . . great news. . . brilliant move. . . great neighbors. . .heartfelt thanks. . .courageous feat. . . Way to go."
"We have gotten many calls from people wanting to know where they could buy Canadian flags," embassy secretary Helen Brodie said between rings.
In his office, Canadian press secretary Marc Lortie was contemplating an apple. He hadn't had time to eat all day.
"The switchboard has been deluged," Lortie said in soft, French-accented English.
"The American people took time to tell us just how grateful they were to have a close friend and ally in this tense situation.
"It's very touching to receive all these messages of gratitude. . . From a political point of view, the Americans and Canadians have a solid relationship, and it will no doubt improve. Certainly America will realize to what extent a friendly country could be helpful."
"The whole thing is terribly romantic," said Meridian employe Copenhaven. "It's like one of those World War II movies when Charlton Heston gets rescued by the French underground."