Reviews, Testimonials

My Father's War

Presented by Ponder Anew

Previously titled 

Ponder Anew: A WWII Warriors Story

We have changed the name, but the performance and workshops are the same!

Testimonials and Reviews

Ponder Anew: A WWII Warrior’s Story is an emotional and nostalgic work that will touch anyone who knows a veteran of any war, then or now. The Sarasota Florida audience loved it.
Patricia Caswell: Co-Founder and Program Director, The Hermitage Artist Retreat


As I spoke with people after the performance, both young and old veterans talked about how much they could relate to the experiences of Herschel Ponder. Some said they forgot they were seeing an actor and thought they were listening to Hershel. Others spoke about the incredible beauty of the voice of Carol Ponder, Herschel’s daughter, who sang period songs that evoked memories of the time period and places that formed the context of the play.
Pamela Mumby, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The moment was raw, powerful: A young soldier on the verge of deployment sat nearby while a seasoned veteran, one of the last to fly over Hiroshima after the 1945 dropping of the atomic bomb, pounded his walker on the floor, bemoaning why we’d never learned.  It would have been striking on stage. But it didn’t happen as part of a performance; it took place during an audience discussion after one. Ponder Anew: A WWII Warrior’s Story had provided the means, as a moving true-to-life tale of a fighter pilot, captured in a memoir originally written for his daughters.
Fiona Soltes, For The Nashville Tennessean


The patients are still talking about what a tremendous performance it was, and how it positively impacted their well-being and recovery.  Reflecting on Ponder Anew, our Vets shared their gratitude: “It showed me that others face the same challenges I face;”and “I never realized how it (my PTSD) affects the family…wow.” What you both shared with our Veterans, was truly "healing medicine" of the highest beneficial caliber.
Beverly Bradigan, Recreation Director, Charles George VA Medical Center, Asheville, NC


Watching the presentation of Ponder Anew and having read the entire memoir – as a former Airman in the USAF, then as a Chaplain in both The USAF and The US Army, and now as a Mental Health professional working with Warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan – I was brought to tears as I was forced to relive the sights, sounds and smells of combat. This is a must-see for every former or current Service member and their family members if we ever hope to appreciate what we and our loved ones have experienced in “The Fog of War.”
Frank M. Brannon: Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Service Provider


The beloved Nashville performing artist/teacher [Carol Ponder] as well as her equally-esteemed producer/director husband Robert Kiefer’s labor of love is certainly a searing, unvarnished and very personal account of war: But his stirring prose – and the beautifully woven threads of spiritual and secular music that bind the courageous and conscientious words of Ponder Anew together in performance – are also a call to recognize and encourage the noble part of our individual and collective natures…the words and music flow like honey from this presentation.
Evans Donnell, Review in ArtsNash


Herschel’s memoir holds in tension dignity, valor, human death, and the darkness of war. It does not try to make everything alright. It creates space where proper emotion can be experienced and where both the dignity and indignity of war are named and accepted for what they are.  Because it is neither anti-war nor pro-war in its approach it has an integrity in which we can honor our veterans and find the healing from war that is too little offered in our culture.  I would recommend “Ponder Anew” to all persons be they family members of combat veterans or not. It addresses a subject we need to hold up in our communities and it holds it up in a mature, honest and responsible manner.
Todd Donatelli, Dean, The Cathedral of All Souls, Asheville, NC


Audience members sometimes have difficulty leaving the performance site at the conclusion of this presentation. Many, perhaps most, remain to participate in or observe the open dialogue which follows. This is not just because they have been intimately engaged for the previous hour with two multi-talented artists. In truth, there are aspects of this moving dramatic experience that touch the audience members deeply and personally, and often raise painful but previously suppressed questions that cry out in anguish for some logical answer.  Conceived, written, and beautifully presented by Carol Ponder and Robert Kiefer, the recounting of the personal experiences of war and return, and the indelible impact on the warrior's family, this piece effectively captures the core of even those who have not lived through the hell of combat and suffered the residual mental scars of these experiences.  Ponder Anew: A WWII Warriors Story is decidedly not a "fun night at the theater"; but it will engage you, may alter your perceptions, and even change your life. You can expect the haunting and familiar melodies to linger with you well into the night.
Walter C. Gray: MFA, PsyD


The cost of war on the human psyche has often been the untold and unacknowledged burden that soldiers, men and women, their families and nations have buried – too often at our collective regret. Our communities are filled with people suffering all too often silently. For some the consequences are life-shattering. Ponder Anew: A WWII Warriors Story invites all of us to reflect on this cost, this burden that threatens the health and wellbeing of so many – mentally, physically and spiritually. The story is timeless and opens the door not simply for understanding, but for real healing. I would encourage everyone to see and hear this performance. It will move you, cause you to reflect deeply, and offer you a way of sharing intimately with those in the midst of suffering the burdens of war.
Rev. Battle A. Beasley: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church


I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to experience Ponder Anew: A WWII  Warrior’s Story.  There are just times when you know somewhere deep inside that you have experienced something eternal, something rare and raw.  …It is a gift to all and a beautiful tribute to our military, in history and present."

Kay P. Arnold, NCC, LPC/MHSP: National Certified Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor


Ponder Anew is a front row seat inside the mind of a WWII fighter pilot. It tells the story of a young man barely out of his teens who flew over 50 missions in the European theater from 1942 to 1945. His memoir, reveals the bravery, fear, dreams and passion of a boy flying daredevil missions for the U.S. Army Air Corps Gripping scenes from the cockpit reveal the glory and the agony of war through the eyes of a young man discovering his own mortality and the larger meaning of our existence as human beings. Music from the era, sung by Ponder’s daughter, is laced throughout the performance, making it an unforgettable experience.
Nan Gurley: Dove Award Winner, Performing Artist, Songwriter, Author


Carol's father flew planes in WWII. My dad jumped out of planes into Philippine jungles. Like thousands of young men, they answered a patriotic call, fulfilled their assignments with skill, and were honorably discharged back into civilian life. As children of those men, we are first and last proud of our fathers, but we also know that it took an emotional toll to fight in war. Ponder Anew: A WWII Warrior’s Story is a compelling story of Mr. Ponder's experience as a fighter pilot told in story and song by two of the most talented actors working today. As an audience member I felt as though I was, at times, in the cockpit as well as back on earth feeling the emotional struggles that follow a successful mission.
Henry O. Arnold, Actor/Author


Carol and her husband, Robert Kiefer, have transformed her father’s account into a poignant performance that cries to be seen and heard by veterans and civilians alike.  With Carol’s songs and Robert’s dramatic voice substituting for Lt. Ponder’s, this is an evening in the theater that brings tears to the eyes and a standing ovation when it inevitably ends.  The tale is respectfully and simply told, creating for the audience a rich imaginative reality.
Ken Jackson, Glendale United Methodist Church


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Introductory Video



Praise for My Father's War

"My Father's War engages the heart and mind with humor, beauty, and a deep humanity. It is healing and cathartic for veterans and community members."  Pamela Mumby Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practioner


 "My Father's War has an integrity in which we can honor our veterans and find the healing from war that is too little offered in our culture."  Todd Donatelli Dean at The Cathedral of All Souls Episcopal Church, Asheville, NC

We donate services to veterans

Please help us to donate performances, workshops, and residencies to Veterans Administration facilities and other veterans organizations. Just go to the website below to make a tax-deductible contribution. 

We sincerely appreciate your support.