Inspired by BBC’s Letter from America: the Reagan years (1981-1988), which is a podcast that I recently found on iTunes, I’ll write some articles about our 40th president. Some of these I had previously written for Ronald Reagan’s centennial in 2011.
This week, we’ll start at the beginning. The Iran Hostage Crisis began while Jimmy Carter was president. Sixty-six Americans were taken captive when Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, including three who were at the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Six more Americans escaped and of the 66 who were taken hostage, 13 were released on Nov. 19 and 20, 1979; one was released on July 11, 1980. There were 52 hostages remaining.
I was young when this happened, but I remember it pretty clearly. I remember seeing updates on the news. And I remember hearing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” on the radio constantly:
The nation’s self esteem was down. Then the 1980 Presidential Election occurred, and Ronald Reagan won in a landslide by winning 44 states, with Carter winning in 6 states, and Washington, D.C. John Anderson did not win any states. This was the first election that I can remember pretty well.
The country’s morale was raised immediately with the Reagan Presidency as the 52 hostages were finally released after 44 days – 20 minutes after Reagan was sworn in as President. I remember thinking what a bad-ass this Ronald Reagan must be! Iran must be scared to death of him after holding those hostages so long, only to release them seemingly out of nowhere.
To date, is the oldest man elected to the office of the presidency (at 69). In his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, which Reagan himself wrote, he addressed the country’s economic issues arguing: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”
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