Remembering the Iran Hostage Crisis

On this day in 1981 just minutes after Ronald Reagan's inauguration as the 40th president of the United States, the 52 U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Teheran, Iran, were released, ending their 444-day struggle in captivity.

The Iran Hostage Crisis as I remember hearing it called on the CBS Evening News, began on November 4, 1979, when militant Iranian students, outraged that the U.S. government had allowed the ousted shah of Iran to travel to New York City for medical treatment, seized the U.S. embassy in Teheran. The Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's political and religious leader, refused all appeals to release the hostages.  However, two weeks after all non-U.S. captives, and all female and minority Americans were released. The remaining 52 captives remained at the mercy of their captors for the next 14 months.

President Jimmy Carter, unable to diplomatically resolve the crisis, decided a military rescue mission was in order, unfortunately on April 24, 1980, the mission he ordered, went disastrously wrong, and eight U.S. military personnel were killed when the aircraft they were riding in crashed in the desert.  Three months later, the former shah died of cancer in Egypt, but the crisis continued. In November 1980, Carter lost the presidential election to Republican Ronald Reagan. Soon after, with the assistance of Algerian intermediaries, successful negotiations began between the United States and Iran. On the day of Reagan's inauguration, the United States freed almost $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets, and the hostages were released after 444 days. The next day, Jimmy Carter flew to West Germany to greet the Americans on their way home.

In honor of those 52 amazing individuals, and the eight members of the Special Forces team sent in to get them (because freedom isn’t free) today’s quotes are on freedom.

“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.”  -Thomas Paine, 1737-1809

“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”  -Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890-1969

“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1900-1944

“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.” – François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), 1694-1778

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1882-1945

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

15 Responses to Remembering the Iran Hostage Crisis

  1. jimr says:

    Ok, the comments on this post have completely derailed the original topic, for those of you who are wondering what that was, it was “Freedom” – I appreciated all the comments; however, I have decided to close this post to future comments.

  2. jeanine says:

    Wow! Way to take something I said in snark and read something into it that wasn’t there Jim.

    I did not make it partisan or try to play your post off as being about Ronald Reagan.

    I was sarcastically pointing out that the Iran Hostage Crisis led our country down a path that no one expected at the time.

  3. jimr says:

    No need to apologize Libby, there will be times when I welcome the partisan debate.  However, in this case, the blog was about celebrating freedom, and remembering 8 Special Forces soldiers who gave their lives attempting to free 52 Americans.

    Oh, and it was Jeanine who turned this into a partisan fight, you just went along for the ride [:)]

  4. Libby says:

    I apologize to you Jimr for inserting partisan politics into this discussion. And I’ll try not to get de-railed again. I was following Jeanine’s lead here. Her initial comment took me into the realm of partisan politics. I must remember who’s blog I am responding to. I do tend to get carried away! Sorry

  5. TVNews says:

    Why is it that when someone holds facts that render a left leaning argument ridiculous and/or too expensive and/or unconstitutional, they “obfuscate the point of the debate?”

    But when someone is using emotional pleas with heart wrenching anecdotal evidence to counter the “this is going cost a barge load of hundred dollar bills” (or some similar logical, fact based argument) they are making valid points that cannot be trumped?

  6. jimr says:

    Actually Libby, you missed my blog point altogether, it had nothing to do with glorifying an accomplishment of Ronald Reagan. The fact that you and Jeanine see it that way, is in my opinion what is wrong with partisan politics in this country, and that’s truly a shame.

  7. Libby says:

    I have learned NEVER to argue with EW’s “facts”. He always has an armada of facts lined up in his arsenal which he uses as weapons in a debate. Sometimes he uses them to obfuscate the point of the debate, which in this case is exactly what I think he did. Either that or I missed the point of your blog which I think was aimed at taking a significant moment in history and using it to glorify the great accomplishments of our “hero” president, Ronald Reagan. And I think Jeanine read it the same way as I did.

  8. TVNews says:

    And people wonder why I often refer to President Carter as the worse president since F. D. Roosevelt.

  9. jimr says:

    Thank you EW, there you go Libby, no “revisionist history” just the facts.

  10. EagleWatch says:

    For the record, the National Security Council’s offices are on the second floor of the West Wing (not in the “basement of the White House”), and the Iran-Contra deal worked rather the other way around.

    As part of our trying to produce a draw in the Iraq-Iran War, Lieutenant Colonel North brokered a deal to sell TOW anti-tank missiles to Iran by taking them out of the pipeline bound for Israel (who agreed to the deal) and selling them to Iran for an impressive profit. This presented Colonel North with a bit of a problem as the White House can’t really show a profit resulting from clandestine armed sales (there’s not a budget line-item for such things), so he hit on the idea of channeling the profits to the Contrarevolutionarios, who were fighting the communist Sandanistas in Nicaragua at the time.

    The American hostages in Iran were released upon President Reagan’s inauguration in return for the release of some $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets. The timing of the release was insisted upon by the Iranians.

  11. jimr says:

    Libby, I don’t doubt “SOMETHING” was going on, I merely stated a fact, that neither the Senate nor the House investigations yielded evidence that the hostages were released because of a deal to sell arms to the contras. That is not to say that we weren’t involved in selling arms to the contras, on the contrary; that was already proven.

  12. Libby says:

    Yeah, Jeanine. You must remember that even Ronald Reagan himself denied that anything “hoakie” was going on in the basement of the White House when he testified at the Iran-Contra conspiracy investigation. Well actually, he testified that he couldn’t remember. Which was perfectly plausible now that we know he was probably suffering from the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. But according to Oliver North’s testimony, SOMETHING was definitely going on and he didn’t deny it.

    I’d say this is a pretty good example of revisionist history, Jimr. If not, please explain to me what Ollie North’s testimony was all about. Thank you.

  13. jimr says:

    Both the Senate and the House conducted separate investigations in the 1990’s and reported that the alleged ties between arms sales to the contras and the release of the hostages was “unfounded”

    What you are talking about is known as the “October Surprise” conspiracy theory, and that’s just what it is, a conspiracy theory, which has been debunked time and time again.

  14. jeanine says:

    Who knew that just a few years later, we would learn that the freedom of the hostages was brokered by high ranking officials in the, then soon-to-be, Reagan administration. All of this to get arms to the contras.

  15. Libby says:

    I like Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s quote best.