Lawrence V. Persinger, the father of an American hostage, ran out of patience yesterday.
"We've been pushed around long enough and humilitated long enough," he asserted. "I would like to know what Carter and the State Department have done as far as getting the hostages out in the last four months."
Persinger's anger and frustration were shared by other hostages' families after the collapse of the United Nations commission's efforts to end the 129 day crisis. The families differed markedly, however in their views about President Carter's administration and what the United States should do to gain the captives release.
Persinger called for stiffer economic sanctions and a possible naval blockade. "Give them a date and tell them what you're going to do. We've fiddled around long enough," he said in a telephone interview from Seaford, Del. His son, Marine Sgt. Gregory A. Persinger, 22, is among the estimated 50 American hostages at the U.S. Embassy compound in Tehran.
A more conciliatory attitude was voiced by families of two other hostages during a radio talk show early yesterday.
Bonnie Graves, who advocates a congressional investigation into past U.S. actions in Iran and a public apology for any American misdeeds, was fielding calls on the Mutual Broadcasting System's "Larry King Show" when Barbara Timm phoned from suburban Milwaukee at 2:15 a.m. Two of the Graves' children were also on the show.
"I'm calling to say that we support Mrs. Graves and her two children 100 percent," Timm said. "God bless you."
Timm has written Carter asking for a U.S. apology to Iran -- an apology that, she says, should stop short of any admission of guilt for alleged misdeeds. "I do not know that it will work," Timm said in an interview yesterday afternoon, "but nothing else has worked thus far."
Timm's son, Marine Sgt. Kevin J. Hermening, and Graves' husband, public affairs officer John E. Graves, are among the hostages.
Between the conciliatory attitude expressed by Timm and Graves and the tough stand urged by Persinger are the views of other captives' relatives who largely back the Carter administration.
"I'm basically in support of everything that President Carter has done. This is a very delicate situation. It's very easy to Monday-morning quarterback," said Ernest Cooke, whose son, Vice Counsul Donald J. Cooke, is a hostage. "We have got to be very patient in this situation because we don't have any alternative."
Cooke said in a telephone interview from Memphis that he favors stepped-up economic measures against Iran, unless further diplomatic avenues become available. He differed sharply with those urging an apology or similar conciliatory gestures, saying, "I don't think the U.S. has anything to apologize for."
In addition, Cooke argued, pleas by the Graves family and others for a U.S. apology "can only encourage the Iranians to hold out longer" by suggesting that the American public is divided on the issue. "As long as those people over think we're split, they will milk it for all we've got," he said.
Pat Lee, whose husband, senior general services officer Gary E. Lee, is a hostage, expressed similar views yesterday. "I feel very helpless because I can't do anything to help my husband and the other people," she said in an interview from her Falls Church home. "I don't think that we have any choice but to wait it out."
Neither sanctions against Iran nor conciliatory U.S. actions have proven effective so far, she added. "It's terrible. It's kind of a do-nothing attitude. There's nothing else that we can do," she said. "You can't talk with people who won't listen."