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Capital’s New Photo Attraction: U.S., Soviet Flags Together With AM-Summit Rdp Bjt

December 8, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In the capital city, wide eyes and cameras are usually the mark of a tourist. But even normally blase natives are marveling at the sight of Soviet and U.S. flags side by side all over town.

The Stars and Stripes are flying next to the hammer and sickle outside the White House and the State Department.

They are juxtaposed behind the briefing platform at the international press center, to be beamed all over the world.

And they are hung on the gingerbread facade of the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House, flanking an enormous Christmas wreath.

″It’s unbelievable, isn’t it?″ one man muttered as he snapped a photograph of the wreath and two flags.

″A rare sight,″ said Samuel Corallo, a Washington engineer, taking the same shot.

″It’s the symbolism of it, Christmas being the season of peace,″ said Brien Culhane, an environmental lobbyist, another photographer at the spot. ″It’s very appropriate. We need to take steps to get along better with the Soviets.″

Lawmakers, worried about the symbolism of a Soviet leader addressing Congress in the House chamber, dubbed ″our temple of liberty″ by one outraged congressman, killed plans for Mikhail S. Gorbachev to speak there.

But there are still the flags and other powerful images generated by the summit.

″I squealed when I saw the flags,″ said Transportation Department attorney Rosalind Lazarus. ″I said to my husband, ‘Do you realize the red flag is flying behind the White House?’ He understood how I felt.″


Mrs. Lazarus was among several hundred tourists and Washingtonians walking the fringes of the White House hoping to catch a glimpse of Gorbachev.

A hush fell on some two dozen people grumbling about the police line stopping them from crossing the street, as they realized Gorbachev’s entourage was about to pass right in front of them.

A half dozen police on motorcycles screeched by, followed by a couple of patrol cars and more than a dozen limousines - one of them, toward the end, with curtained windows. ″That’s him,″ someone said into the awed silence.

Around the corner, hemmed in by fences and police on foot, motorcycles and horses, White House workers started back to their offices. ″I would have loved to have seen him,″ one woman said in a tone normally reserved for matinee idols. Another employee had no stars in her eyes. ″They damn well better let us back in,″ was her comment.


For most, the only view of the White House welcoming ceremony came from afar, more than a block away on a patch of grass worn bare by Sunday’s human rights demonstrators. A homeless man wrapped in a turquoise sleeping bag slept restlessly on the ground as a press photographer repeatedly took his picture.

A handful of other people strained to hear the ceremonial music, the two national anthems and the amplified voices of Gorbachev and President Reagan, barely audible but enough all the same.

″I was remembering back to how remote Soviet leaders used to be. You could never hope to see them,″ said Mrs. Lazarus, who studied Russian before becoming a lawyer. ″Hearing his voice live. ...″ Her own voice trailed off in wonder.


Not everyone, of course, has succumbed to peace talk and misty eyes.

The lead story this week in extremist Lyndon Larouche’s newspaper, The New Federalist, is headlined ″Russians Invade Washington 3/8″

″U.S. Shovels Concessions at Gorbachov; SDI Next To Go?″ asks the subhead.

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