Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meet Jan Rose Kasmir


Several years ago, I had the honor of meeting Jan Rose Kasmir face to face. She is a soft spoken, yet powerful woman. Born during a time of political unrest in America, she bounced from one foster home to another. She was only 17 in 1967, when a city transit bus took her to the Nation's capital to join in a protest against America's involvement in Vietnam. Military troupes in full battle uniforms, with rifles raised, surrounded the Pentagon. It began as a peaceful protest but unfortunately ended in violence. Some of those at the rally wished only to speak to the soldiers, and convince them to throw down their guns. Eventually Jan found herself face to face with a line of guns and bayonets. She was holding only a large flower close to her face.

What made this event famous was that it was captured on film by a famous French photographer Marc Riboud. The image became a memorable symbol of non-violent resistance. Marc Riboud did not identify this young woman, and he would not be able to name her until 30 years later!

Here is a further article about it from the Smithsonian Magazine.


Below is a link to the actual picture on the web-site of the Human Flower Project. The look on Jan's face is so shy and perhaps a little terrified (and yet peaceful). This picture is proof that a picture NOT ONLY speaks a thousand words, but sometimes it changes peoples hearts and minds. For those of us who grew up in the 60's and 70's, this picture is part of the general landscape. I know it effected my thinking about the nature of the world. I imagine it touched many more people.


I remember thinking about the saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword." I was wondering if perhaps during the 60's it might be more appropriately altered to, "The flower is mightier than the gun." There is so much more to be said about this time in our history, and about Jan Rose Kasmir. But I hope this brief introduction gets you started.

1 comment:

  1. I hope that late really is better than never. I just found your post and I am so touched. I am in Spain being honored for my picture - my theme is ordinary people make extraordinary difrences. I am on facebook - I would be honored if you would have me as a friend. I have to admit I am not sure who you are, but we will fix that!
    jan rose