In 1981, as the Iranian Hostage Crisis reached its 100th day, the owner of Hillcrest Memorial Park in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, Thomas Flynn, planned a tribute to the 52 Americans being held. A new flagpole waving the United States flag would be raised each day until the hostages were freed.
Like many other Americans, Flynn had watched the United States flag burned daily on the news, from scenes outside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. So he planned a newsworthy story of his own. He would raise a flag for every day the crisis continued.
Using poles donated by local pipe company Wheatland Tube, and the labor from a local steelworkers union, 100 flags were raised in the initial ceremony. New poles and flags would continue to be raised until the crisis ended on January 20th, 1981. At the end, there were 444 flags flying above the entry to the park.
The poles still stand and flags still fly along the Avenue of 444 Flags leading into the park. Flags of the U.S. States and armed services also fly above the avenue, as well as Canada’s flag, acknowledging its role in the successful rescue of the hostages. An eternal flame is lit for the eight soldiers who died in the initial rescue attempt. Over 18,000 flags have flown over the avenue since the crisis occurred over 30 years ago.