I cannot fully explain my fascination with this man and his life. He was never my friend in the flesh and yet he was, a vicarious one. I have had other vicarious friends because of what they were, what they did, what they tried to do and failed, how they dreamed and died and were forgotten. Few people today have even heard of Dag Hammarskjold. He was not the martyred, eloquent reformer as Martin Luther King was. He was not the towering, martyred statesman as Abraham Lincoln was. Hammarskjold never crusaded like Joan of Arc There was no flamboyance in the man. His suit was a little rumpled. Quite the contrary, he was artistic. poetic contemplative — a quiet man who performed no miracles. An acquaintance of celebrity, he was no celebrity. Hammarskjold was not assassinated in a theatre box, nor shot on the street nor burned at the stake. His plane, the Albertina, just crashed in the heart of darkness near the source of the Congo in 1961. His martyrdom is still unproved.
He was accused of having a Christ-complex — a criticism now discredited. He was simply an imitator of Christ as all Christians are asked to be. But he did it. As a diplomat and negotiator little was more important than the use of language, the word. A man’s word is sacred. If Jesus, as Hammarskjold said was the “hero of the Gospels,” this Secretary-General was the hero of the UN Charter. He lived and died as a peacemaker,
As most of his advocates, I discovered Dag Hammarskjold sometime in the Sixties, but I cannot remember precisely when. Over the years he has often banished my insomnia and inspired my soul. You must know his diary, Markings, to love the man — and much more. Soon you discover that he’s a disciple of Christ in a summer suit behind a podium. And his words are a threshold to Another Place. I am just at the threshold. David Milliken