American over. Fifty-two Americans, taken hostage when Iranian mobs

American Hostages are Released From Iran

For
more than 14 months, the nation had endured humiliation. But now, on January 20,
1981, it was finally
over. Fifty-two Americans, taken hostage when Iranian mobs stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran—were coming home. After scornfully brushing off
ineffectual threats and offers to negotiate from the Carter administration, the
Iranians had suddenly seen fit to cut a deal. They were, after all, confronting
a new and perhaps tougher American president, and pressure was mounting in
their savage war against neighboring Iraq.

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In
return for the hostages, the United States released an initial $2.8 billion of about $12
billion in frozen Iranian assets. That seemed a small enough price as an
overjoyed America greeted the hostage-heroes with pealing church
bells and blizzards of confetti. Despite having suffered brutal treatment, the
hostages were a tough bunch and swiftly set about rebuilding their lives.  

The Assassination Attempt of Ronald Reagan

Scarcely
two months after President Reagan took office, on March 30, 1981, John W. Hinckley Jr. watched from a crowd as the
smiling president crossed a Washington sidewalk to his limousine. Then, the young man
fired six shots from a .22-caliber pistol. Instantly, Secret Service agent
Jerry Parr pulled down Reagan’s arm and shoved him into the car, which sped
away. At first, nobody knew the president had been hit. Reagan thought the
agony he soon experienced and the blood he spat resulted from Paar’s leaping
protectively on top of him in the limousine. In fact, a ricochet off the car
had entered Reagan’s body beneath his raised arm.

 

The
shooting had lasted only two seconds. But in that time, Hinckley had put not
only a bullet into Reagan’s lung but another into the brain of his press secretary,
a third into the abdomen of a Secret Service man trying to block the shots with
his body, and a fourth into the neck of a Washington policeman. No one died,
but the event was like a blow to the gut of assassination-weary America.

 

Reagan
played the scene for laughs. His one-liners, passed on to the public from his
hospital bed, calmed the nation. He asked a female emergency-room nurse who gently
held his hand, “Does Nancy
know about us?” To surgeons about to operate: “Please tell me you’re
Republicans.” Reagan was back at work within a month, his support from the
country newly cemented by his courage and humor.

 

Afterwards,
note from Hinckley showed his obsession with actress Jodie Foster,
who did not know him. In another not, written an hour before the shooting, he
said he planned “to get Reagan” and added, “At least give me the
chance with this historical deed to gain your respect and love.” Seized
immediately, Hinckley was later judged insane.

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