Norman Morrison burned himself to death in front of Secretary of Defense McNamara’s windows at the Pentagon on November 2, 1965. This was in protest of the Vietnam War. He had been inspired by the Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire in Saigon. Morrison was a member of Stony Run Meeting in Baltimore, where he was its Executive Secretary.
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam created a poster honoring Morrison in the mid-1960’s. It depicts him standing in flames. On his right is part of a banner that says “Stop US Bombing”; on his left are American warplanes. The caption reads “Certains se sont trouvés culpables” (Some are found guilty). The artist is anonymous.
The Vietnamese people regard Morrison as a national hero. They feel he gave his life for their country. (He is known there as Mo Ri Xon). During the Vietnam War, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam issued a stamp in his honor, and the poet Tố Hữu dedicated the poem “Emily, My Child” to him. After the war, the cities of Đà Nẵng and Hà Nội named roads for him. In 2007 the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyễn Minh Triết visited a site near where Morrison died and read Tố Hữu’s poem to commemorate him.
I remain convinced that Norman Morrison’s act was wrong. But I remain haunted by it.