Historical exhibition to commemorate the hostage crisis in Iran | New
ERMITAGE – Motorists likely saw the Avenue of 444 Flags as they drove along East State Street in Hermitage, but an upcoming exhibit will give residents a unique view of the hostage crisis in Iran that these flags represent .
The pandemic forced the Hermitage Historical Society to postpone a celebration it planned last year to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of 52 US hostages, who were held from November 1979 to January 1981 at the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran, by Islamic revolutionaries.
Now the company is making up for lost time, said Treasurer Rod McAdams. The historical society will host a program at 1 p.m. on October 17 at its headquarters in Stewart House, 5465 E. State St., Hermitage.
The exhibit will feature more than 50 photographs, ranging from photos of Iranian hostage-takers to footage of anti-Iran protests in the United States, and a looping video showing the history of the Avenue of 444 Flags.
âIt really put Hermitage on the map,â McAdams said of the avenue.
The artefacts were curated by the late Tom Flynn, former owner of Hillcrest Memorial Park, now called America’s Cemetery, and donated to the company by Tom’s son and daughter-in-law, John and Jennifer Flynn in 2020. Tom, a veteran of the military, gathered the documents as he closely followed the hostage crisis in Iran.
Tom Flynn began the Avenue of 444 Flags by erecting 50 state flags around an American flag in the cemetery to reflect the approximate number of hostages, followed by 100 American flags to mark their 100th day in captivity. As the crisis continued, Tom began installing a flag to mark each day the hostages were in captivity, ultimately resulting in a collection of 444 flags by the time the hostages were released.
For a while, Tom also set up a trailer in the cemetery that served as the “Avenue of 444 Flags Freedom Museum”, which chronicled the crisis. It was located where the Hillcrest-Flynn Funeral Home and Pet Crematorium is today until it moved across the street to what had once been a center. welcome for visitors to the Shenango Valley. The museum and visitor center were then closed and demolished in the 1990s.
Following the closure of the museum, the photographs and other materials were kept until donated to the historical society. When the historical society received the photos, McAdams said they sparked a lot of discussion from visitors and members of the historical society.
âIt brought back a lot of memories, even though it happened 40 years ago,â McAdams said.
John Flynn, now the city’s fire chief, and Jennifer, who worked as a tour guide at 444 Flags Avenue and the museum, will speak at the event on October 17. John’s brother, Tom Flynn Jr., is also slated to make an appearance, McAdams said.
âJohn was 10 at the time, so a lot of his memories were footage of what was going on at the time, as his wife got on the tour bus and did the presentation,â McAdams said.
The event will be open to the public and the program will begin in the garage, where an outdoor setting can allow for greater attendance. The historic society will follow all security guidelines in place at the time, McAdams said.
The photographs are expected to be installed by the Thursday or Friday of the event and could be kept for the following weeks for visitors or school groups to view the collection. Future updates on the display will be posted on the Hermitage Historical Society Facebook page.