Marselis Parsons shares another one of his favorite stories as he counts down the days to his retirement.
Again tonight, one of my favorite stories. Back in 1979 and 1980, we had all been taken hostage figuratively by the hostage crisis in Iran; 52 Americans held captive for 444 days-- one of them a former Vermonter. They were released in January 1981 and there was joy and yellow ribbons everywhere.
This is the story of one celebration and it is introduced by my predecessor, Richard Gallagher.
February 2, 1981
Richard Gallagher: Former hostage William Keough was given a hero's welcome yesterday in his hometown. Keough spent several years in Vermont as superintendent of schools in Burlington, but his home is in Waltham Massachusetts, and Marselis Parsons went there to cover his homecoming.
Marselis Parsons: Bill Keough came home last Friday to his mother's house in Waltham, Mass. Yesterday was to be a day of tribute-- a hero's welcome. It began with a quiet family reunion, but he interrupted it briefly to give us the only exclusive interview he has granted since returning from 444 days in captivity. We will broadcast that interview this Sunday at 6:30.
Then it was off to a Thanksgiving service. On the campus of his alma mater, Boston College, St Ignatius Church has been his mother's parish for many years. There was standing room only. (Congregation sings America the Beautiful)
Sunday afternoon, the streets of Waltham were lined with his friends, neighbors, and many who didn't know Bill Keough but just wanted to share in the joy of his homecoming.
Woman parade watcher: We're all so happy... everyone being released and we're ready to welcome whoever-- especially Bill, today.
Parsons: When you say whoever, it seems the parade is more for you than for him?
Woman: It's for all of us.
The welcome home parade was delayed almost an hour because of the crowd, but few seemed to mind. And once underway, it was stopped often for people to grasp Keough's hand, exchange a word, or pass him a flag or a flower. Each time the procession would stop, the bands would play on.
(Band plays and crowd sings I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy.)
Police estimated the crowd at more than a quarter million. They hung from the sides of buildings just to get a glimpse of him... and then Keough and his family stood in the square as the parade passed in review. Many pressed forward, some trying to get an interview, but his family kept them back, trying to keep HIS attention on those marching by, giving HIM their salute.
The parade went on for hours, but both Keough and the people who came here to welcome him home would have stayed all night.
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