REAGAN, Ronald. Printed document signed ("Ronald Reagan"), as President, 26 January 1981. Joint Resolution of the U. S. Congress designating January 29, 1981 as "A Day of Thanksgiving To Honor Our Safely Returned Hostages." Stamped "Approved" by the President on 26 January 1981. ALSO SIGNED BY SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THOMAS P. "TIP" O'NEILL, JR., AND GEORGE H. W. BUSH AS PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE. 1 page, folio.
A GRATEFUL NATION WELCOMES HOME THE IRANIAN HOSTAGES. "In recognition of the hope, honor, faith, and courage of those men and women who have been forceably held prisoner in Iran...Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the 29th day of January 1981, is declared A Day of Thanksgiving To Honor Our Safely returned Hostages..."
On November 4, 1979 66 Americans were taken prisoner by Iranian radicals. A few hostages escaped and one was later released because of ill-health, leaving 52 Americans in captivity for 444 days. The radicals justified their action as retaliation for the United States's long support of the repressive Shah, and specifically for allowing him into the U. S. to receive cancer treatments. After months of fruitless negotiations, President Carter sent a commando force to free the hostages. But the raid failed, leaving 8 U. S. servicemen dead. The American public grew increasingly angry at the Carter administration for their inability to free the captives or to undertake appropriate retaliation for this barbaric violation of international law. That frustration helped propel Reagan to his landslide victory in the November 1980 election. Frantic and exhausting negotiations over the course of December and January through Algerian intermediaries finally resulted in a deal. Just minutes after Reagan's inauguration, the hostages left Iranian airspace, and flew to an Air Force base in Frankfurt, Germany, and then home to a heroes welcome. A striking artifact from that long, agonizing ordeal.