Hour of Thanksgiving for USA Hostage Return 1981 Jan 21

Filed under 2 or more | Thanksgiving - Gratitude | Tributes and Expressions of appreciation

 Diplomats and staff at the United Nations convened in a special hour of thanksgiving on Wednesday morning, 21 January, at eleven o’clock in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, in gratitude for the release of the American hostages.

The meeting was in keeping with the efforts of the U.N. community for the release of the hostages.

The programme was sponsored by the peace meditation group in the spirit of Sri Chinmoy’s words at a U.N. programme held at the start of the hostage crisis in November 1979:

The world has always experienced the indomitable strength of American arms. Now the world is experiencing the incomparable strength of the American heart.

In life ‘s battlefield, America’s unparalleled compassion-heart will unmistakably and decisively win. And this unprecedented conquest shall supremely shine in the universal oneness-family of the aspiring and self-giving humanity.”

Following are excerpts from the programme, which included the performance by the meditation group choir of several songs written especially for the occasion by Sri Chinmoy


Mr. Herbert Rickman, Special Assistant to Mayor Koch:

 I remember all too clearly how we gathered together in November 1979, feeling so much pain and frustration at that time over the apprehension of American men and women in Teheran.

At that time 1 shared with those of you who were here a hope that we might find compassion on both sides. to ease the pain, anger and suffering that were felt.

And now, at this moment of deliverance, once again it is my hope that both the American and the Iranian peoples can come together in a sense of forgiveness.

And for the wonderful fifty-two heroes and heroines who are to day safe in Weisbaden, shortly to be united with their families, I can only echo the words of that wonderful, wonderful hymn:

“They are free at last, free at last, thank God, they’re free at last.”


Rev. Bernard Hrico, representing the Holy See Mission to the United Nations:

How good it is to be here for this joyful celebration! I cannot help thinking that in spite of all the political events and activities involved, we are compelled to look beyond them and to see the spiritual values which can be derived from the past 444 days.

If anything, it makes us realise how limited or finite we are. As persons who believe and live for God, we realise how much we are dependent upon Him. And as we live as He wills us to live in our relationships with other people of the world, we seek forgiveness.

We have compassion and love for people everywhere. We pray in a spirit of joy because the hostages are virtually home. We give thanks because our prayers have been answered.

We pray with confidence that God will strengthen not only our faith, our hope and our love for Him, but above all, that He will strengthen our faith, hope and love for all the people of the world everywhere.


Mr. Dirk Gleysteen, Political Counsellor, United States Mission to the United Nations:

It is very easy for all of us here to be thankful f or the release of the hostages, for their safe arrival in Weisbaden and eventual return back to their homes and families.

I need hardly make the point that in this U.N. environment we Americans are grateful to our colleagues, both professional and personal, within the U.N. and all over the world, who cooperated to the extent that they could during the last fourteen months, in all the long periods of disappointment and worry.

Our U.N. and diplomatic colleagues around the world were very supportive and we owe a debt of gratitude to them. This takes the form of recognition that we cannot operate alone in the world we live in. In addition, I might say that in the U. N. context it was especially apparent that there was a sense of sharing during this whole period of 444 days.

We received a great deal of support from the U.N. community, buttressing our spirits and enabling us to pass on to the hostage s that the whole world diplomatic community was backing up our efforts in the hostage situation.

Thank you very much.

Ambassador Zenon Rossides, Permanent Mission of Cyprus to the United Nations:


Sri Chinmoy, dear friends, I am most happy to be with you today on this great occasion. It is great in many respects, because a problem has finally been solved that has been tormenting the hostages, their families, the American nation and the whole world.

It was extraordinary, unprecedented, I would say, in the history of humanity throughout the ages, for emissaries, diplomats, to be illtreated. This was something which hardly ever happened in the past. In ancient Greece, whatever else happened, the envoys were greatly respected. In Roman times, Cicero said that one of the greatest attributes of the Uris Gentium or the “Law of Nations” is the immunity of envoys and the proper approach to the problems of war and peace. Many things might happen during war, but some things pertaining to international laws were not to be violated because they were felt to be natural law, the law of nature, the law of the great nature of man.

I have something here from Cicero which I would like to read to you, as it is very pertinent to the present situation:

“The Law of Gentium is the law of right reason. It is based on right reason in agreement with nature, unchanging, everlasting. It is universal, valid for all nations and all times. He who disobeys it denies himself his own nature.”

How is it that we behave in this way at this time, during the time of the United Nations, when we are so advanced in our civilisation that we have been able to travel into space and have in our hands the means of destroying all human life on this globe?

I do not mean to accuse anyone country, but I am commenting on the present day civilisation that has so departed from the natural law. I think this deviation is due to the kind of force which has prevailed in the world over the years. In ancient Greece, in the times of Homer, it was the physical force of man. Kings were the strongest men. Achilles was a great hero, almost a god, because he was strong. The strength was in the man, not in the machine. Now we have come to a time when the power is in the machine. That makes the difference, and this difference started with the invention of the airplane and man getting into the air. Then, a greater sense of responsibility was required from him, because he had acquired a power he had never thought existed.

That was one of the reasons for the establishment of the League of Nations. Its founders thought:

“Now we can no longer depend on the human mind to restrain itself in the use of power and force. We have to have an organisation.”

They founded the League of Nations, but it failed because man could not follow its principles. The United Nations again came with high ideals. The preamble to the Charter is like a gospel. But again, we have diverted from the Charter because we fail to carry out its principles. The Charter calls for the Security Council to make a decision and once a decision is taken, it should be implemented or, if necessary, enforced. We, the international community, have not complied with the Charter. We have a world that is not governed by the natural law of man; it is governed by the machine.


The only way to keep the world within man’s control is through the United Nations, but we have violated its Charter. I would have been so happy if the resolution of the Security Council adopted unanimously, without a single abstention for the immediate release of the hostages had been implemented, or enforced by the means available to the Security Council to enforce its resolutions, to keep order and security in the world and to maintain a sense of reason, a sense of justice and a sense of freedom. But this was not the case. We hope someday it may be, because that is the way humanity can be saved. That is the way humanity will be able to survive.

Now we have to rejoice for what has been done. I would like to express my appreciation for the American Administration that dealt in such a delicate way with wisdom, with patience and with tolerance, in stead of trying to use force. They exercised all the understanding that was necessary to see the other side’s burning difficulties and then to come gradually to an agreement. This was much better than if they had freed the hostages by force, even by a decision of the Security Council or otherwise. I think great praise is due to the American Government, which handled the situation with such delicacy and understanding. Therefore, although the hostages may have suffered during this long time, everybody is much happier that this has been resolved by real understanding and under the guidance of God. And so, I rejoice with the hostages, with their families and with the American nation at this great achievement and also, I rejoice with the Iranian people for having come to an agreement which will help them in the future. And we hope that things may one day develop towards a United Nations effective enough to give security and freedom and peace to the world.

Thank you.


U.N. staff and delegates give thanks for the safe return of the hostages. From left to right : Rev. Bernard Hrico, representing the Holy See;  Sri Chinmoy,’ Mr. Mike Kergin, representing Canada, Mr. Dirk Gleystein, representing the United States; Mr. Herbert Rickman, Special Assistant to Mayor Koch,· Ambassador Zenon Rossides, representing Cyprus; and Mrs. Ligaya Lara, representing the Philzppines.


Free, free, free, free! Soulfully free, honourably free!

Compassion-father, President Carter Is universally a victory-tree.

No more sleepless struggle-nights, no more.

All where, all lit ignorance shore.

Heart-power is the power of wisdom-height.

Bondage nowhere, delight, delight.

Words and music by Sri Chinmoy



Fifty-two hostages are now

Enjoying freedom-light,

America, America, America!

Within, without ecstasy-height.

Words and music by Sri Chinmoy


Four hundred and forty-four days

Of anguish fathomless

In a tiny hole-world

Of torments ruthless.

Welcome home, brave soldiers ,

To your freedom-clime.

Victory, victory, victory!

America ‘s compassion-time.

Words and music by Sri Chinmoy



Hostages are now amazingly free .

American heart is in a nectar-sea.

No war, no war, harmony and peace must reign

To speed up humanity’s progress-train .

Words and music by Sri Chinmoy





PDF format of report in periodic Bulletin : “Meditation at the United Nations” Jan 1981


See Page-images 20  to 32

Gallery 2 below is jpg format

Gallery 1  Photos from event



Gallery 2: 

JPG scanned page images 20 to 32 “Meditation at the UN” Jan  1981