My Father’s War
A Story of Conflict, Survival, and Grace
From the Memoir "Ponder Anew" Adapated and performed by
by Lt. Herschel Ponder, USAAC Carol Ponder and Robert Kiefer
My Father’s War is the story of an innocent young man who joins the Army Air Corps after
Pearl Harbor and becomes, in his words, “a professional exterminator.” That young man
was my father. We adapted this performance from his 1989 memoir, which he wrote in
his storytelling voice – droll, sincere, and cruelly straightforward.
After not talking about his war for 44 years, my father found real healing from his war’s
invisible wounds by writing and sharing his story. Through it, I have understood my
father more clearly as a human being. Every word that Robert speaks in his role as
Lt. Ponder is straight from my father’s original manuscript, a primary historical
document from WWII.
To augment the sense of time and place, we’ve enriched the story with family favorite songs
from the period and traditional songs from the Southern Appalachians of Western North Carolina,
our family home.
Through performances of the highest artistic quality, post-show discussions, creative
workshops, and residencies; to honor and serve our veterans and to help our communities
process the personal, social, and cultural effects of war with integrity,
in an honest and responsible manner.
My Father’s War is a catalyst for healing and understanding. It includes a discussion with the
audience after every performance. My father’s story not only brings history to life, it also
inspires participants to talk, then write about their own experiences of life before, during,
and after military service.
We provide performances, discussion, workshops and residencies free to the Veterans
Administration and other veterans organizations. Sometimes we create and present an original
piece written and performed by the participants – using the whole spectrum of spoken word art,
as well as songwriting. There is movement toward healing for all.
We provide all services in public and private schools, from middle school through
colleges and universities, and adult education programs. We work with educators in
diverse programs to bring history to life and to create excellent learning through the arts
and arts integration curricula.
In addition, we create programming for performing arts centers, Chautauquas and resorts,
community centers, libraries, "house concerts," homeless shelters, senior living residential
groups - and for anyone else you might imagine.
My Father's War is supported through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee,
The Tennessee Arts Comission, Potts Marketing, and Board & Staff Consulting.