Original photographer:
Marc Riboud
Marc Riboud

Bill Ganzel


Jan Rose Kasmir
"The Ultimate Confrontation: The Flower and the Bayonet"

Jan Kasmir then and now

By 1969, LOOK saw this photo a "The Ultimate Confrontation: The Flower and the Bayonet." Photographer Marc Riboud had discovered this girl offering a National Guardsman a flower, "a gesture of love and peace on earth. The boy could answer only with his bayonet."

The young woman was 17 year old Jan Rose Kasmir. "I don't remember how I heard about the Pentagon demonstration, but I just knew it was something I had to participate in," she says. "I had to speak out against this horrible war."

But she was surprised by her reaction when she found herself face to face with the soldiers. "I was begging them to come join us. 'You don't really want to kill me, come join us.' … The moment that Marc snapped that picture, there is absolute sadness on my face because, at that moment, it was sympatica. At that moment, the whole rhetoric melted away. These were just young men. They could have been my date. They could have been my brother. And they were also victims of this whole thing. They weren't the war machine. They were human beings and they were just as much a puppet of this whole horrible, horrible travesty… The gesture was prayerful."

By 1969, LOOK reflected the views of many, if not a majority, of Americans – the war was wrong.

"This war, vicious as cancer, has in many ways been dramatically close to us because of television," LOOK editor Patricia Coffin wrote. "But still, it is so remote that the routine Thursday morning announcement of U.S. casualties spews from my radio at the same voice level as the news about the weather. 'Only 250 dead this past week, a reduction from …' Only! And one hundred billion dollars have been spent on a war that was never officially declared. When I think what a fraction of that money could do…"

Roger Donlon and Jan Rose KasmirBy the end of the decade, the war had moved from Johnson's War to Nixon's War, as the "silent majority" pushed back against the anarchy and chaos they saw in the protests and counterculture.

In 2010, Kasmir has a thriving massage therapy business in Hilton Head, SC, but her life has not been easy. She was sexually assaulted when she was in college and had a difficult time processing the wounds. She says she got sober in 1978 as a result of a 12-Step program. She was married and divorced, and her 18 year old daughter is her main focus these days. She's worked hard to build a secure and welcoming home for her and her daughter.

She is still concerned about peace and progressive causes. In 2003, a peace group brought her to England to protest against the Iraq war. This fall she will be going to Spain for another international peace demonstration.

But Kasmir is a discouraged that America seems to be complacent in the face of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It's something that's plagued me horribly – the impotence that we all feel towards war and America's ability to wage war and the common citizen's ability to stop it. I think we had power in those days. There was a place for sincerity, and sincerity had an impact. I think that time has passed. That window of opportunity for an individual has passed. I don't think that we, anymore, have the ability to have that kind of impact. I think the next level is going to be making art the forum."