Item description for Held in the Light: Norman Morrison's Sacrifice for Peace and His Family's Journey of Healing by Anne Morrison Welsh & Joyce Hollyday...
Overview A poignant and haunting memoir about war and its many victims, about conscience and faith, about suffering, healing, and the quest for peace. One day in November 1965, Norman Morrison, a devout Quaker, immolated himself on the steps of the Pentagon as a protest against the Vietnam War. It was a terrible and defining moment of an era, one that marked the lives of many people-not least Morrison's own family, who were left struggling to understand his action and to pick up the pieces of their lives. Now, Anne Morrison Welsh, recounts Norman's story as well as her own journey, over a lifetime, to find acceptance, forgiveness, and recovery from life's wounds. While many were appalled by Morrison's action, others were deeply affected-among them, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who later described Morrison's death as one of the critical turning points in his life. Decades later, on a pilgrimage to Vietnam, Anne and her children complete a circle that brought them to terms, in a new way, with the mystery and meaning of that day in November.
Publishers Description One day in November 1965, Norman Morrison, a devout Quaker, immolated himself on the steps of the Pentagon as a protest against the Vietnam War. It was a terrible and defining moment of an era, one that marked the lives of many people - not least Morrison's own family, who were left struggling to understand his action and to pick up the pieces of their lives. This searing memoir by his widow, Anne Morrison Welsh, recounts Norman's story as well as her own journey, over a lifetime, to find acceptance, forgiveness, and recovery from life's wounds. While many were appalled by Morrison's action, others were deeply affected - among them, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who later described Morrison's death as one of the critical turning points in his life. Decades later, on a pilgrimage to Vietnam, Anne and her children completed a circle that brought them to terms, in a new way, with the mystery and meaning of that day in November.
Citations And Professional Reviews Held in the Light: Norman Morrison's Sacrifice for Peace and His Family's Journey of Healing by Anne Morrison Welsh & Joyce Hollyday has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Christian Century - 12/16/2008 page 25
Christian Century - 01/13/2009 page 49
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Studio: Orbis Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.44" Width: 5.66" Height: 0.64" Weight: 0.73 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2008
Publisher Orbis Books
ISBN 1570758026 ISBN13 9781570758027
Availability 0 units.
More About Anne Morrison Welsh & Joyce Hollyday
Anne Morrison Welsh has been active in peace work for more than four decades. After her husband's self-sacrifice she served on the National Peace Education Committee and the American Friends Service Committee. She is currently a freelance journalist in North Carolina.
Anne Morrison Welsh currently resides in Black Mountain.
Reviews - What do customers think about Held in the Light: Norman Morrison's Sacrifice for Peace and His Family's Journey of Healing?
Hearbreaking memoir beautifully written May 25, 2009
There are many painful stories from America's war with Vietnam but HELD IN THE LIGHT by the widow of Norman Morrison is a memoir that takes us further in its beauty and tragedy.
Anne Morrison Welch brings the reader deeply and intimately into her experience of incredible loss, then hope and reconciliation. Her husband's self-immolation at the Pentagon and the danger to her daughter at the scene recalls the depth of anger and division that would soon envelop the country in the 1960s. Then their son's early death to cancer 10 years later is recalled by the author with the same depth of emotion but in a way that does not overwhelm the reader.
HELD IN THE LIGHT, is not a tale of anger and despair. It is, rather, one Quaker woman's journey toward peace and understanding in coping with unspeakable tragedy, both personal and national. Anne Morrison Welch's account of reconciliation with her daughters, with the former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, under whose window Norman Morrison set himself afire, offer just two of the remarkable meditations in this book.
Most inspiring in Anne Morrison Welch's story is her account of a memorable visit to Vietnam where she and her two grown daughters joined with numerous Vietnamese,leaders and ordinary citizens,in reflecting on Norman Morrison's act for which he is remembered as a major symbol of American opposition to the war. This part of the book is truly significant and uplifting.
Recommended for any general-interest library, especially those strong in Quaker beliefs Dec 15, 2008
In 1965 devout Quaker Norman Morrison immolated himself on the steps of the Pentagon as a protest against the Vietnam War. His family's experiences with his actions, with peace issues, and their eventual healing make for a vivid memoir in HELD IN THE LIGHT, recommended for any general-interest library, especially those strong in Quaker beliefs.
Diane C. Donovan California Bookwatch
The Wounds of War Oct 9, 2008
The Viet Nam war was brought into my awareness in a meaningful way with two events. The first was the attack on the USS Maddox in the Tonkin Gulf. My brother was a lieutenant on that ship. I suddenly realized how deadly the potential was to touch my own life. The second event was hearing about Norman Morrison's protest of the war. I was a senior in high school. His act put me in touch with the suffering the war was causing in a real sense, not only in the lives of the Vietnamese but also in lives here in my own country. I could feel inside myself the anguish. It turned me toward a path of protest and questioning everything I ever was taught about my country.
I met Anne Morrison Welsh in 1987 when we were both Executive Directors of Group Homes for Developmentally Disabled adults. But, it was not until 1993 when she joined me in directing a group home for Developmentally Disabled artists, that she told me of Norman. Once again I knew that deep anguish of that time. We have been close friends to this day, and I watched the evolution of her life that she describes in the later chapters.
When I read the book, I saw her soul shine through. The honesty with which she writes about the difficult but healing journey she has lived, witnesses the evolution of an open heart.
We are presently again involved in a dubious war and her memoir offers us the chance to realize and acknowledge once again the suffering caused by our country's actions, as well as the suffering of so many American families of brave soldiers who will never come home to their wives and children. The meaning of Norman's act is brought home to us once more.
"You think me reckless, desperate and mad. You argue by results, as this world does..." * Oct 1, 2008
I was 11 years old when Norman Morrison set himself afire in front of the Pentagon to protest the napalmed slaughter of civilians in Vietnam. But I remember the 1965 event as if it happened yesterday. The high drama of a man killing himself by fire seared itself into my young mind.
In the years since, I've thought about Morrison's self-immolation many times. Was it a genuine peace witness, or the over-the-top act of a disturbed man? Even by Christian standards, which put a high premium on sacrifice, is this kind of sacrifice appropriate? And on a less abstract level, was Morrison right to leave behind a widow and three young children? Was there a moral difference in kind and not just degree between his sacrifice and that of a familyless Buddhist monk or nun? Was Morrison's act more selfish than selfless?
Anne Morrison Welsh, Morrison's widow, has been haunted by these sorts of questions too, and her memoir Held in the Light is a sensitive, touching, and honest attempt to chronicle her search for answers. The book begins with a phone call on a November afternoon in 1965 that alerted her to the fact that something awful had happened to her husband, and ends with long passages in which two of Morrison's children, Emily and Christina, reflect on their own efforts to come to terms with what their father did.
One of the most thought-provoking aspects of Held in the Light is that it clearly underscores the irreducible complexity of human motivations. Norman Morrison was a young man who clearly agonized over the suffering of the Vietnamese people, and wanted to do something to end their ordeal. But he was also a loner and a man of paradoxes who seems to have had trouble at times making connections with people who were up close and personal (as opposed to anonymous people on the other side of the world). He was an impulsive man who believed in divine inspiration--"guided drift," as he and Morrison Welsh jokingly called it--and apparently received the "inspiration" to self-immolate only hours before actually striking the match. Although Emily and Morrison Welsh resist the possibility, it seems apparent from Morrison's final letter to them (quoted on p. 36) that he intended to offer up himself and Emily in a fiery, Abraham/Isaac-inspired sacrifice. God only knows why he changed his mind, at the very last moment throwing Emily safely to one side.
Morrison's death left his family emotionally frozen, and their recovery took years. (Son Ben died while in his teens, leaving Morrison Welsh and the two girls. Morrison Welsh's description of Ben's last illness and death in Chapter 4 is heartbreaking, leaving the reader bewildered and angry: how much must this family endure?) A journey to Vietnam, a visit to My Lei, and the realization of how grateful the Vietnamese people were for Morrison's act (Chapters 6-8) helped the healing process, as has time.
Has Held in the Light answered my questions about the propriety of Morrison's act? Not really. The book's third chapter is where Morrison Welsh asks the same hard questions, and some of the responses she heard from others and cites there are insightful. One of the most revealing is from Marian Manly (p. 46), who wrote "It is easy to dismiss Norman Morrison's dreadful act as the meaningless self-destruction of a deranged fanatic. It was desperate; it was futile; but it was not meaningless. What he was tryiing to say was: 'See what it is like for a man to die by fire. See it for yourselves. You, who make impersonal war, devising strategies and tactics in your air-conditioned offices, look and see!'"
I get what Manly is saying. But in reading about the horrific suffering Morrison's action imposed on his widow and three children, I found myself growing angrier at him with every page I turned. And yet Morrison Welsh's book forces me to ask myself why, and in doing so to think long and hard about just what it means to be a witness for peace. And that kind of reader-unsettling is one of the best things a book can do. ____________ * From T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral," quoted by Morrison Welsh (p. 53) in her effort to plumb the significance of Norman Morrison's act.