The captives were blindfolded and forced to strip. Their captors would beat them, place them in mock electrical devices and torture their victims with freezing cold and starvation. The afflicted cruelty was so bad that some prisoners attempted suicide to escape it.
Many reading this opening description might believe that I am portraying the events at Abu Ghraib. But I am not. I am depicting the events endured by the American hostages for 444 days of the Iranian Crisis that began in 1979.
A few days ago marked the 32nd anniversary of its ending, which was also the Inauguration Day for Ronald Reagan. And while the legend remains that the Iranians feared what Reagan might do to them in response once becoming Commander-in-Chief, we now know that much of the release negotiation did occur under Carter’s watch. However, even though a lot of arrangements were made before his swearing in, the timing of the hostages release proved the new President was partly a factor in how their freedom played out.
In 1979, few Americans understood why the hostage situation occurred. Much of the premise for the crisis can be traced back thirty-five years before to World War II, which reminds us how decisions of our past can have serious effects even for a long time to come. Clearly, we are still dealing today with the impact from this more-than-thirty-years-passed event, and most Americans today cannot make the connection either.
I recall as a boy, Americans vowed to never forget. I think most of us have. But I thought it might be time to refresh myself (and others) on what happened. Not to stir feelings or recall bad memories. It is history and important to remember. Perhaps we all can learn lessons from the mistakes and successes of our past.
I have no real point other than to bring awareness of this historic time to any readers who happen upon my writing. However, I did find a few things interesting while researching this myself. Perhaps the most peculiar falls in line with the sentiment of yesterday’s Force and Reason post. The US Embassy was overrun by unarmed men, who fled the grounds when guards brandished their firearms. But word spread among the Iranian mob that the Americans would not use those weapons. It was tested, and when deadly force threat was discovered to be a toothless snarl, the weaponless crowd seized the compound.
In closing, I will simply quote Edmund Burke: “Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.”