Thirty years ago — on Jan. 20, 1981 — 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days were blindfolded and delivered to a pair of waiting jets while a sea of bearded faces chanted “death to America, death to Reagan.”
In the United States, president Ronald Reagan was just concluding his inaugural address when the planes lifted off the ground to freedom.
Kathryn “Kate” Koob was one of two women among those held captive, and she is the only female hostage still living. On Sept. 21 Koob, a native of Jesup and now a retired professor, will keynote the United Nations International Day of Peace celebration at The Canticle, home of the Sisters of St. Francis, 841 13th Ave. N., Clinton, beginning at 7 p.m.
Koob (pronounced “kobe” as in “robe”) had arrived in Tehran to serve as director of the Iran-American Society only four months before the American embassy was seized by Iranian militants on Nov. 4, 1979. From her office two miles away from the embassy, she relayed information to Washington for a day before she, too, was captured.
Her sense of humor, her Lutheran faith and prayer sustained her. “The idea of a contemplative lifestyle intrigued me,” she wrote in her award-winning account of her captivity, “Guest of the Revolution.” “What would it be like? Here was my opportunity to find out.” She worked out a schedule for herself, spending each morning in prayer and concentrating on a different topic.
After her release, she returned to the Foreign Service with assignments in Austria, Germany and Australia, retiring in 1996 to her home state of Iowa, where she taught at Wartburg College, Waverly.
The free, public program in the chapel at The Canticle will conclude the day-long celebration of the Day of Peace, which will feature public prayer at The Canticle beginning at 7 a.m. A variety of church and student and groups will lead prayer throughout the day.
For more information on the Clinton observance of the United Nations International Day of Peace call Sisters of St. Francis, (563) 242-7611, or visit www.clintonfranciscans.com.