Since Saturday, people on Capitol Hill have been puzzling over the pink ribbons and bows that appeared suddenly, attached to trees and lampposts, along Pennsylvania Avenue from Third Street SE all the way to the Sousa Bridge.

"I've asked everybody . . . . I can't find out why," said Vincent Cronin. Cronin, who operates a flower stand near the corner of Third and Pennsylvania, said folks had been asking him about the ribbons "all day."

At the Hawk and Dove Restaurant down the street, bartender Paul Meagher said a patron had suggested that the ribbons were in honor of a female soldier listed as missing in the Persian Gulf War.

Another patron, Jim McDonald, who lives near Maryland Avenue and 11th Street NE, said the answer might be found at a church near his home that was sporting many pink ribbons.

The Greater Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, near Stanton Square park, was indeed festooned with pink ribbons along its wrought-iron fence and gates.

Marion B. Frippe, the chairman of the church's board of deacons, said members of Greater Mount Zion had put the ribbons along Pennsylvania Avenue during the weekend.

"It's just a reminder that we're praying for peace," he said inside the church, where pink ribbons were attached to every pew.

Frippe said the idea of hanging the ribbons was the brainchild of Greater Mount Zion's pastor, D. Lee Owens.

During the next few weeks, Frippe said the church intends to hang ribbons along about 20 District streets, including Maryland Avenue and Sixth Street NE.

Frippe said there was "no specific" reason for choosing the color pink, other than to make the ribbons stand out from all the yellow ribbons that people have hung in support of troops in the gulf.

The church also is distributing bumper stickers with the legend, "Pink for Peaceful Prayer for the Persian Gulf, Sponsored by: People Praying with Power."

Frippe said the ribbons are not in support of either pro-war or anti-war points of view.

"It's not a complaining thing," he said. "The general purpose is prayer."