Hometown, Family Prepares for Hostage’s Homecoming Sunday
BOSTON (AP) _ Freed Beirut hostage Frank Reed will see his 91-year-old mother for the first time since his release when he returns home Sunday to a hero’s welcome, his daughter said Thursday.
″I think what’s kept her going for the past 3 1/2 years is (that) this day will come,″ said Marilyn Langston. ″Once she sees him and touches him, that will be very, very wonderful for her.″
Ms. Langston, 33, said her grandmother, Leota Sprague, did not travel to Frankfurt, West Germany to greet Reed, as younger family members did.
Reed grew up in Malden, a Boston suburb about five miles north of downtown. Malden Mayor James Conway said city residents were excited about the return of their native son.
″We’re delighted that he is coming home,″ Conway said. ″We’ve been waiting patiently for this. We look forward to sharing in his joy and triumph.″
All over the city, yellow ribbons adorned businesses and homes to signify the vigil of those awaiting his return, Conway said. In one city square, a billboard welcomes Reed back.
″There’s a lot of feeling that the fellow went through a lot,″ Conway said. ″We’ve been remembering him in our prayers.″
Reed will receive an official welcome from the city when he lands at Logan International Airport, including police escort to accompany a limousine carrying the former hostage home, said Linda McManus, executive director of the Malden Chamber of Commerce.
The city scheduled a parade to honor Reed on Tuesday, with the Malden High School band and city dignitaries attending, Ms. McManus said.
The parade was scheduled after veterans complained about tentative plans to honor Reed in conjunction with a Memorial Day parade Monday. Ms. McManus said that wasn’t the only reason for scheduling the second parade; it was also planned to allow Reed a day of rest at home.
″The purpose of the (Memorial Day) parade is not a celebration, it’s an observance for deceased war veterans,″ said Michael Imbracsio, 65, a World War II veteran and former state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Reed, kidnapped in 1986 while serving as head of the private Lebanese International School, was held by Moslem extremists until last month. Since his release, he has been recuperating and undergoing medical tests in Germany and since May 4 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
His daughter said Reed called her Thursday morning from the Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Andrews to tell her he was arriving home Sunday.
Air Force Sgt. Eddie Riley, a spokesman for the hospital, said doctors there had said Reed would go to Massachusetts late Saturday or early Sunday and return to the hospital Tuesday.
However, Reed’s son-in-law, Bob Langston, said Reed told him he intended to participate in the parade and return to the hospital later Tuesday or on Wednesday.
Reed’s wife, Fahima, and their 9-year-old son, Tarek, have lived with Mrs. Sprague in her two-bedroom Malden apartment for almost a year.
″I’m very pleased. I’m delighted. I can’t wait,″ Mrs. Reed said Thursday.
Reed, 56, said he was beaten by his captors and blindfolded much of the time. His daughter said he told her Thursday that he had regained about 15 pounds of the 50 pounds he lost during the ordeal.
″He’s been playing golf,″ Ms. Langston said. ″They’ve had him out on the golf course at the base. He’s also been undergoing physical therapy to get him going.
″I’m really happy that he will finally be seeing my grandmother. I know she’s going to be ecstatic.″
″Of course it makes me feel grand,″ Mrs. Sprague said. ″We’re all very thrilled that he’s coming back.″