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.
A condensed version of this memoir can be found in Welsh’s earlier Pendle Hill pamphlet #381, Fire of the Heart: Norman Morrison’s Legacy in Viet Nam and at Home.