Friday, April 2, 1999 Published at 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Captured soldiers bring crisis home
Yellow ribbons and US flags at the home of one of the captured soldiers
The three US soldiers being held in Serbia, Christopher Stone, Andrew Ramirez and Steven Gonzalez, have become public heroes overnight in the US, and have brought the war in Yugoslavia home to Americans in the process.
The New York Post's headline blazed: "Don't you dare" in response to the Serbian threat to court-martial the three men.
The paper said: "The war in Yugoslavia came home to America this week - to the far-flung hometowns of three soldiers captured by Serbs on the Macedonia border."
Pictures of anguished parents, yellow ribbons being strung around the soldiers' home towns, and stories of communities falling silent in nervous prayer, dominate reports.
There is extensive coverage in the newspapers of the capture of the "hometown heroes", along with the reaction of everyone from President Bill Clinton down to family and friends of the soldiers.
And, as highlighted by the Miami Herald under the headline "Clinton warns Milosevic over US soldiers", the decision-makers are keenly watching public opinion.
"Clinton administration officials, ever mindful of American public opinion, do not believe that the video of the US soldiers shown on Serb television will substantially erode support for Nato's mission," the paper said.
However, polls by major US television networks continue to show public opinion evenly divided over the air strikes, and the capture of the soldiers has had little immediate effect on individual attitudes.
The large number of "don't knows" demonstrates the uncertainty many Americans express about the role of the US in Kosovo.
A large number of Americans have expressed concern about reports of atrocities in the region, but are unsure how the US can act to stop the bloodshed.
Opinion varies widely
In interviews with visitors to Washington DC from around the country, the capture of the soldiers did little to change their opinion.
Scott Hansen is on vacation from Illinois. He expressed uncertainty about the US role in the conflict in Kosovo.
Lou Tkacz of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is now more in favour of the Nato action: "We should be more aggressive with ground troops. ...I was for it before (the soldiers' capture), and it has only made me feel more aggressive toward it".