The Moment Jimmy Carter Learned the Hostages Were Coming Home

Season 7 Episode 620
Aired on 09/27/2015 | CC tv-14
It was one the most memorable events of Jimmy Carter's presidency—and it didn't even happen while he was president.

In November 1979, 66 Americans were taken hostage when a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The world watched as President Carter worked tirelessly to negotiate their release. After 444 days in captivity, the hostages were freed, mere moments after President Carter left office. For President Carter, who received the news from the Secret Service, the release of the hostages was a joyous occasion.

"It was one of the best days—best moments—of my life," President Carter tells Oprah. "Rose and I celebrated all the way to the helicopter."

A second celebratory moment came for President Carter when the newly elected Ronald Reagan invited him to meet the hostages. "I didn't know how they were going to react to me," President Carter says. "When I walked in the room where all of them were assembled, they stood up and broke into applause, and one by one they embraced me and thanked me for getting them out."

Watch as President Carter reflects on one of the most crucial pieces of his legacy.