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Pages From Our Past: It's over! Hostages are free (1981)

As the Elkhart Truth celebrates its 125th anniversary, we look back at this front page from Jan. 20, 1981.

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 6:37 p.m.

January 20, 1981: It’s Over! Hostages Are Free

National news dominated the front page of The Truth on this day, as the Iran hostage crisis came to a peaceful conclusion just as Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th president of the United States.

In the hostage crisis, which was recently featured in the 2012 Academy Award-winning film “Argo,” a group of Iranian students took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 American citizens hostage. They were protesting the recently overthrown Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was seeking refuge and medical treatment in the U.S. at the time, and demanded that he be returned to Iran for trial. In response, the U.S. government froze Iran’s assets in the U.S.—as much as $9 million—and halted oil importation. More than a year later, after the Shah’s death, the hostages were finally sent home and the money returned, in a deal brokered by the Algerian government. The ordeal is said to have been the beginning of a long history of tense relations between the U.S. and Iran.

The article, picked up by The Truth from UP International, notes that the hostages were freed just 25 minutes before the inauguration of Ronald Reagan as the 40th U.S. president. The hostage crisis was believed to be a deciding factor in the election—a diplomatic embarrassment that raised concerns about President Jimmy Carter’s administration and tipped the scales in favor of his challenger.

The Truth’s article about Reagan’s inauguration notes that on that day, he became not only the oldest person to hold the office of president but also the first former film star and the only divorcee. In his inaugural speech, he promised to stand by his campaign promises of generous cuts to personal income taxes and federal spending, a balanced budget in two years and more money for defense.


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