A 40 Year Anniversary

It was forty years ago this week when I turned on the television to see a somber President Carter explain the failed military effort to rescue Americans held hostage in Iran.

Two years ago, I met one of the survivors.

He was helping me carry my packages to my car when I was buying items for a church group donation. We were collecting for a men’s group home in a nearby town. Most of the men there are homeless veterans making their way back into their communities.

This man said he was a veteran of Iran and explained that he’d been part of that hostage rescue attempt.

We talked about the 1979 hostage crisis when radical Iranian students invaded the US embassy and captured 52 US citizens. They remained in captivity for 444 days.

In 1979, I was a young mother with two young children and a newborn. My younger daughter was one week old when the embassy fell. She was nearly 15 months old when they were freed.

This man helping me with packages said the failed rescue mission was his “Benghazi”.

I could tell he had an edge to him. Couldn’t be bothered with small talk. Had seen too many big things in life to talk small.

He mentioned PTSD and some other disorders in quick succession.

Until he got this job at the department store where he’d worked for five years, he had trouble staying employed. This company understood him. Perhaps what they understood was what he’d given for us. Perhaps they understood what we often don’t realize:

There is more than one way to give your life for your country.

We say it. We tell them thank you for serving. Sometimes we are talking to the walking wounded who truly have given their lives for us. They are not the same people we sent off to fix a crisis.

He left part of himself over there.

We can’t thank him enough.

We can’t thank them enough.


For more on the rescue effort, see Desert One. The movie Argo is a fair portrayal of the rescue of several of the diplomats who hid in the Canadian embassy for about six months. (Discretion advised)

Photo Credit: thehostagerescueattemptiniran.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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38 Replies to “A 40 Year Anniversary”

  1. God placed you there to chat with that man. Thanking the men and women who serve in the military is one act of kindness we all can do. Listening is another act of kindness we can all do.

      1. Melissa made a good point about being available to listen. We owe military men and women our prayers and our gratitude. Thank you, Nancy.

  2. Thanks for this reminder! And in the middle of this turmoil, life continued on…just realized we were traveling on our honeymoon 40 years ago today. We need to continue to tell their story and remember their sacrifice.

  3. Thanks for the reminder. I too remember this event. It seemed as though it would never end.

    I have had many family members who served our country in the military. Our son retired with 24 years of service.

    And many of our civilians have suffered gravely, like those 52.
    You’re right. We cannot thank them enough.

  4. Amen, Nancy… “He left part of himself over there. We can’t thank him enough.” It’s so true. Words cannot ever compensate for the sacrifice he made… I’m grateful for his service and so grateful to know this man is, I hope, on the mend.

  5. How amazing to meet him and that he helps others in spite of what he went through. God bless him for his service. Thanks Nancy for sharing

  6. Humbling! I think one way we can thank them is to understand them. Their life is a sacrifice and they are still giving as they live. It’s horrible what people have lived through all for the sake of our freedom.

    1. The country’s founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Many paid dearly while keeping their honor intact. You’re so right–we need to understand people and show them grace. Thanks, Marcie. God bless!

  7. There is more than one way to give your life for your country….. So powerful! My brother, my dad, and my niece are all vets; a precious daughter in the Lord is headed to Navy boot camp tomorrow! We need to honor those who served our country.

    1. Amen, Candice. Thanks to your father, brother, niece, and “daughter”. We are so blessed to have the heart to serve in our nation. And thanks to you. God bless!

  8. Thank you for this reminder of the sacrifices our veterans have made. My father and several other members of my family served and the cost they gave was great. I pray we can do a better job at caring for these wonderful men and women who sacrificed so much for us.

  9. That was one of the defining events of my life. I was just about to graduate High School , and had just reached the age where I could enlist. I was an Army brat, and had spent some time in Germany in the early 70’s, and was probably more “aware” of terrrorism than my peers, so I followed things more closely than any teenage boy likely would. I had also been exposed to some Special Forces types on occasion, and I held them in awe.

    Not long after that mission, I enlisted, and volunteered for Airborne training. After several years of a rather uneventful career, an opportunity arose that opened some of the most improbable doors, and I found myself assigned to the Intel Squadron of 1st SFOD-D. While there, I met and worked with some amazing people, a few of whom were part of that mission. One is a close friend to this day. He introduced me to mountaineering, and for a few years, it seems we were climbing together every time an opportunity presented itself.

    1. Sometimes when we watch the evening (or now online) news, we don’t figure on the events we see changing our lives. Thanks for serving, Doug. And God bless you and your friend too!

  10. Thank you for the reminder, the links with further information on this tragic and historic time, and for your heart to honor and help our veterans, and to raise awareness. We truly cannot thank our veterans enough. God bless you, Nancy, God bless our veterans and active-duty military personnel, and God bless the USA.

  11. I’ll never forget that! I had a toddler and a newborn, so you and I were at about the same place in our lives. My husband and I watched on our 13″ black and white TV. It was shocking to think that this could happen to an American embassy, that our people could be taken like that. When we serve our country, we never know what will be required of us, whether it our lives or our mental or physical health. Loss of time with family and a return having been changed is part of service. Every hero who performed service gave up something precious. These are the people we honor, these are the ones I think of when we pledge allegiance to our flag.

    1. Thank you, Melinda. I think I had that same television too–13″, black and white–in the bedroom where I watched the events unfold often. Thanks for your heart for those who serve. God bless!

    1. I went when it was new in the theater. I was back a few days later with the daughter who was a baby when it began. I own the DVD. Thankful for movies that remind us of how it was even in our lifetimes. How soon we can forget. Thanks, Chris, and God bless!

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