On this day in 1979, hundreds of Iranian students storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking more than 60 American hostages. The students, supporters of the conservative Muslim cleric Ayatollah Khomeini, were demanding the return of Iran’s deposed leader, the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, who had fled to Egypt in January 1979 and by November was receiving cancer treatment in the United States. After the student takeover, President Jimmy Carter ordered a complete embargo of Iranian oil. In April 1980, President Carter severed all diplomatic relations with the Iranian government, but after a top-secret rescue mission failed, he resumed negotiations with the Khomeini regime. Despite his best efforts to win the hostages’ freedom while he was still in office, Carter did not get much credit for their release: The Iranians let the hostages go on January 20, 1981, just minutes after new elected president Ronald Reagan finished his inaugural address. Find Iran at the library and on hoopla.
On November 4, 1918, just one week before the armistice was declared, ending World War I, the British poet Wilfred Owen is killed in action during a British assault on the German-held Sambre Canal on the Western Front. Now celebrated as one of the greatest English poets of the 20th century, Owen’s war poems were popularized in the 1960s when Benjamin Britten included nine of them in his War Requiem, dedicated to four friends who had been killed in World War II. The most famous of them, “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” is not only a memorial to those who died in the Great War of 1914-19, but a classic and timeless representation of the waste and sacrifice of war:
What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?—Only the monstrous anger of the gunsOnly the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattleCan patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?Not in the hands of boys but in their eyesShall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
Some images maybe disturbing.
Disco was at the absolute zenith of its popularity in 1978, and with the likes of even Barbra Streisand, Frankie Valli and Rod Stewart falling under its intoxicating spell, the party showed no signs of letting up. But then along came Anne Murray, a Canadian balladeer whose sincere pop-country sensibility offered a rather stark musical counterpoint to the prevailing mood. In a year generally associated with artists like Chic and Donna Summer, Anne Murray achieved the biggest hit of her long pop career when “You Needed Me” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 , November 4, 1978. Find Anne Murray on hoopla and on Freegal.