It was on January 25, 1981 that the fifty-two American hostages who had been held captive in Iran for 444 days traveled from Stewart Airport (as it was then called) in Newburgh to West Point after their release. A heroes’ welcome awaited them then, as they passed home after home festooned with “Welcome home” signs and the traditional yellow ribbons. Recently several of those veterans of the Iran hostage crisis returned to West Point for a reunion and to be greeted by a whole new generation of West Point cadets.
During this past autumn I drove along Route 9W over Storm King Mountain toward Cornwall, having no idea of the great historical significance of this stretch of road; I was on my way to Cornwall to find a spot from which to photograph the Hudson River and happened to pull into a parking area that appeared to have some promising photo opportunities. My hunch was correct, and after making several images of the astounding Hudson Highlands in their autumn finery I walked over to where I had seen two hikers begin what seemed to be a descent toward the river bank.
It was then that I saw the sign proclaiming this to be the Freedom Road. Now, I’m always on the lookout for subjects of historical interest in the Hudson Valley, but this was a surprise and a revelation for me. (I was living abroad at the time of the hostages’ release and thus unaware of the details of their return route.) What a great tribute and memorial to heroism and courage! And let’s face it, one can’t help but feel a twinge of pride to think that one of the first sights to greet the hostages upon their arrival back in the USA was one of the most stunning views in our beautiful Hudson Valley.