33¢ Iranian Hostages Return
Celebrate the Century – 1980s
Issue Date: January 12, 2000
City: Kennedy Space Center, FL
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
On November 4, 1979, Islamic militants seized the American embassy in Tehran, taking hostages. The militants opposed American influence in Iran and its support of the former shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had entered the U.S. for medical treatment. Under the leadership of an Islamic religious leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the new Iranian government wanted the shah and his fortune returned to Iran, financial concessions from the U.S., an apology, and a promise never to interfere in Iranian affairs again.
The hostages, mostly government employees and military personnel, were held captive for 444 days. The American people and news media were engrossed in the stories of the hostages and their families. After a 12-hour plane trip to West Germany, the 50 men and two women were freed on January 21, 1981.
The hostage situation had a huge impact on the 1980 presidential elections, especially after a botched rescue attempt. The release of the hostages coincided with the swearing in of President Ronald Reagan. He warned, “Let terrorists be aware that when the rules of international behavior are violated, our policy will be one of swift and effective retribution.” Former President Jimmy Carter flew to Germany to greet the hostages.