What is the most valuable thing that you’ve ever been close to? What was it? (No fair saying people, who are, of course, priceless!) Was it a Lamborghini, a house, a castle (Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA comes to mind)?
Yesterday I shared a bit about Coca-Cola and its history and worth. Personally, I think that the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, GA, is questionable as a tourist location except for one thing (which I may share tomorrow). They charge something like $16 per adult to get in and most of the displays, while interesting, are not what I’d think of as spectacular.
One of the displays is what they call “The Vault”. They lead you into it, pretending to scan your identity to be sure you aren’t a security risk, you navigate through wide halls and some rooms to see displays of various kinds, and then you finally wind up in a room with “The Vault”.
The Vault is touted as the place where the secret formula for Coca-Cola is contained. If you look at a can of Coke, the ingredients are listed…sort of. There’s one item that says “natural flavors”…and that’s the secret sauce!
I was suspicious as to whether or not the secret formula, one of the most closely guarded secrets in the history of the world (and one of the most valuable!), was kept in this vault. As it turns out…it is true! It had been stored at a bank (as noted yesterday) before it was moved to this vault at the World of Coca-Cola.
I was THIS CLOSE to a secret worth $79.3 billion. And that, my friends, is the most expensive thing that I think I’ve ever been close to!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On April 24, 1980, an ill-fated military operation to rescue the 52 American hostages held in Tehran ends with eight U.S. servicemen dead and no hostages rescued.
With the Iran Hostage Crisis in its sixth month and diplomatic appeals to the Iranian government ending in failure, President Carter ordered the military mission as a last ditch attempt to save the hostages. During the operation, three of eight helicopters failed, crippling the crucial airborne plans. The mission was then canceled at the staging area in Iran, but during the withdrawal one of the retreating helicopters collided with one of six C-130 transport planes, killing eight soldiers and injuring five. The next day, a somber Jimmy Carter gave a press conference in which he took full responsibility for the tragedy. The hostages were not released for another 270 days.
On November 4, 1979, the crisis began when militant Iranian students, outraged that the U.S. government had allowed the ousted shah of Iran to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s political and religious leader, took over the hostage situation and agreed to release non-U.S. captives and female and minority Americans, citing these groups as among the people oppressed by the U.S. government. The remaining 52 captives remained at the mercy of the Ayatollah for the next 14 months.
President Carter was unable to diplomatically resolve the crisis, and the April 1980 hostage attempt ended in disaster. Three months later, the former shah died of cancer in Egypt, but the crisis continued. In November, Carter lost the presidential election to Republican Ronald Reagan, and soon after, with the assistance of Algerian intermediaries, successful negotiations began between the United States and Iran. On the day of Reagan’s inauguration, January 20, 1981, the United States freed almost $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets, and the 52 hostages were released after 444 days. The next day, Jimmy Carter flew to West Germany to greet the Americans on their way home.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), who tirelessly worked to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday, also was the first person to advocate women as teachers in public schools, the first to advocate day nurseries to assist working mothers, and the first to propose public playgrounds. She was also the author of two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”