An American Hero in Iran
July 4, 2009 11:42 PM   Subscribe

On a windswept plateau near the foothills of the Sahand Mountains in northern Iran stands the grave of a martyr. An American presbyterian minister who fought and died for the Constitutionalist cause in Iran 100 years ago, Howard Baskerville is still revered by Iranians today.
posted by empath (7 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Oh I probably should have linked this letter as well:

In the night a soldier brought a note from him, "Dangerous rumor that the Europeans will be attacked to secure immediate intervention. don't be on the streets today." The first Sunday after he joined the army he came to church and sat in his usual seat, - the second in front - and had quite an ovation afterward, the men pressing round him to shake hands. That afternoon he came to see us. I begged him not to be reckless, saying "You know you are not your own." "No," he answered, "I am Persia's."
posted by empath at 11:47 PM on July 4, 2009

A wonderful and moving story—many thanks for the post.

As my contribution, here's a similar story of courage in the same part of the world that took place a decade later: "Rescue At Urmia" (pdf, Google cache).
posted by languagehat at 6:27 AM on July 5, 2009

Great story.
posted by cmyr at 8:28 AM on July 5, 2009

Thanks for this post. My favorite part:

When Doty demanded that Baskerville turn in his passport, Baskerville refused. Doty was furious to learn that Baskerville had been making use of the library at the American consulate, doing research in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on how to make grenades.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:40 PM on July 5, 2009

Thank you so much for making me aware of this fascinating story, empath. As a Persian I'm quite ashamed that I was completely ignorant of Mr Baskerville's brave sacrifice for Iran. Even more so because my paternal grandfather hailed from Tabriz, although I've never been there myself.

Incidentally Baskerville reminds me of Linda Hunt's character in The Year of Living Dangerously.
posted by Devils Slide at 3:44 PM on July 5, 2009

Oh, and my aforementioned grandfather died in 1972, reputedly at the age of 100, and therefore may have actually encountered Howard Baskerville.
posted by Devils Slide at 3:48 PM on July 5, 2009

Not to sound all cargo-cult but, true story: In the early 60's my father was tapped as the representative of the United States to deliver the address and be the guest of honor at a village high in the mountains of Lorestan where the local tribesmen worshiped notable Americans. The year he went they were inducting a new member of their pantheon to go on equal stature to Baskerville, recently assasinated (martyred) President Kennedy. My father, in those days a Peace Corps volunteer (a "child of Kennedy"), carried with him an important gift directly from Lyndon Johnson, an official US Government issue portrait of Kenedy, which went in their shrine as a sort of icon.

I have no idea why they chose famous Americans as their object of worship or if they still exist and continue to worship them.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:51 AM on July 6, 2009

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