"When I was first taken hostage and a gun was thrust to my head, I said to myself this cannot happen," reflects Barry Rosen.
For Rosen and the other former hostages held in Iran for 444 days three decades ago, it could be thirty years....or thirty seconds. Sometimes it almost seems like not a day has gone by.
When he was captured, Rosen was the press attaché at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. He is one of the original 52 Americans who were held for the duration. Most of the time he was blindfolded, faced mock execution, and endured other forms of physical and mental abuse.
The coverage of this event made Ted Koppel's career. The television show Nightline was created to follow the events.
The program had its beginnings on November 8, 1979, just 4 days after the Iran hostage crisis started. ABC News president Roone Arledge felt the best way to compete against NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was to update Americans on the latest news from Iran. At that time, the show was called: "The Iran Crisis—America Held Hostage: Day xxx" where xxx represented each day Iranians held hostage the occupants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran.
America was captivated by this event. We wondered how our once mighty "take no crap from anyone attitude" was turned against itself. We were impotent and left with only "diplomatic" solutions by our leadership. The failed hostage rescue only demonstrated more that we were helpless with out new leadership.
When Ronald Reagan was elected president in November of 1979 the Iranian regime knew that their time holding Americans and America itself hostage was drawing to a close. While President Reagan was giving his inauguration speech the hostages were being flown out of Iran.
My Marine artillery instructor told us he was in the flotilla waiting for the orders to land in Iran the week leading up to the release. The expeditionary force was to occupy the military while another special forces mission was launched to rescue the hostages. We had people on the ground and knew exactly where the hostages were located. They would be coming home. Period.
The Iranians knew this and knew that war the United States would not end well for them.
This was a very low period for America and with the Reagan administration a resurgence of national pride began that can still be felt today.
Welcome home hostages.