The ordeal that left an indelible mark on so many lives has not only receded in time, it has been overwhelmed and overshadowed by the many terrible terrorist acts that followed, most notably the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Still, Firestone says she was shocked to find the Iran hostage crisis distilled to one paragraph in her son’s history book. In Lankford’s conference room one recent day, she gazed at hostage photos on a 2001 trial exhibit headlined “52 Faces We Won’t Forget,” and remarked, “It seems like everybody has forgotten.”
In the view of many former hostages, that forgetfulness extends to the failure of the U.S. government to learn from what what they endured amid the anarchic tumult of a country that had just been through a revolution. They shook their heads last Sept. 11 when terrorist attacks killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the consulate in Benghazi. It was happening again – a host government unable to protect diplomatic personnel, and pleas for help that went unheeded. “Nothing’s changed over all these years,” German says.