Jan Rose Kamir was 17 years old when Marc Riboud took the famous photograph of her offering a flower to a line up of soldiers, their rifles aimed, during an anti-Vietnam war demonstration, the March on Pentagon in 1967. Thirty years had to pass until Riboud found out the name of the young woman in what would become one of the most iconic photographs of the anti-Vietnam War movement. In an interview he recalled: “She was just talking, trying to catch the eye of the soldiers, maybe try to have a dialogue with them, […] I had the feeling the soldiers were more afraid of her than she was of the bayonets.”
Ms. Kamir remembered that “as [we] approached the Pentagon, the National Guard lined up to form a barrier to keep us from encroaching. Somebody was handing out flowers, which is how I came to have a chrysanthemum in my hand. I was going back and forth, beckoning the soldiers to join us. It never dawned on me that I was in any danger. This was before Kent State, so who would ever think that they would kill me? None of them made eye contact. They stonewalled me. But the photographer later told me he noticed them shaking. I think they were afraid they were going to be told to fire at us.”
Thirty years after their encounter Marc Riboud photographed Jan Rose Kamir again during a protest. This time during an anti-war demonstration in London. Ms. Kamir was holding a life-size reproduction of the photograph Marc Riboud took of her in 1967.
Jan Rose Kamir lives in Denmark with her daughter and husband. Marc Riboud died last year, at the age of 93.