On July 4, 1989, Lieutenant Herschel Ponder wrote to his three daughters – Anne, Carol and Schell, “…I had a sudden urge to tell you about my war, World War II – and the subsequent coping – my peace. After 45 years some of the events are as vivid as ever…There is no fiction in what is to follow. The time, places, the people, the involvements are as I remember them.”
Lt. Herschel Ponder’s WWII memoir, entitled Ponder Anew – What the Almighty Can Do, was written in his storytelling voice – droll, sincere, and sometimes almost cruelly straightforward. In it, he wrote of his fears, his joys, and his struggle to remain human during and after an inhumane war.
Lt. Ponder was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1922. At the age of 20, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and flew 51 missions in his beloved P-47 Thunderbolt in the European Theatre. His war memoir, written for his daughters in 1989, is warm, funny, tragic, and poignant by turns. Carol Ponder, Lt. Ponder’s middle daughter, with Robert Kiefer, her husband, have crafted a performance of words from the memoir, family stories, and some of the songs Ponder and his family loved, both popular and traditional. The show was premiered as part of The Hermitage Artists’ Retreat Series (where Carol received a six-week Fellowship for artistic excellence) in Sarasota, Florida. It is a beautiful production that evokes the essence of war and warriors, their victories, sacrifices, loyalty to each other, and the sweet pain of coming home. The audience response from combat veterans and other people from many walks of life has been tremendous.