This is a collection of my personal views of the second secretary-general of the UN, Dag Hammarskjöld. It's a reflective view of the man, an amazing human being.

Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961)
Many words have been written, over the years, in Nordstjernan and other well known newspapers about the tragic event that took Dag Hammarskjöld from us; his tragic death in a mysterious airplane crash over 50 years ago will be investigated many times by experts. The accident led to a number of conspiracy theories, and now once again an international group of lawyers will investigate his death. Why that, rather than develop and present a better understanding of Dag Hammarskjöld as the singular person he was?
In looking back to this dark day when the world stopped, with trembling and heavy hearts all of us tried to understand what had happened:
A Swedish news bulletin in September 1961 informed us that our beloved Swedish UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold had died without giving us a chance to say good bye. How do you say goodbye to such a beloved person? A person you do not expect to die ... that must always be with us?
Dumbfounded, as only a 17-year-old admirer could be, partially paralyzed and through a veil of tears, I said to myself that I must hold his memory in my heart as the wonderful person he was.
This is why I have throughout my life tried to find out more about this fantastic person’s inner thoughts and guidance through life.
Who was he? The answer may be found in his journal, a publication in 1963 entitled "Markings" (Vägmärken) that revealed the inner man as few documents ever have. The entries in this manuscript, Hammarskjöld explained in a cover letter to his literary executor, constitute "... a sort of White Book concerning my negotiations with myself—and with God." There is a delicate irony in the use of the language of the diplomat. The entries themselves are spiritual truths given artistic form.
"Markings" contains many references to death, perhaps none more explicit or significant than this portion from the opening entries, written when he was a young man:

Tomorrow we shall meet,
Death and I -.
And he shall thrust his sword
Into one who is wide awake.

In 1953, soon after his appointment as United Nations Secretary General, Hammarskjöld was interviewed on radio by Edward R. Murrow, the well known journalist that always ended his program with "Good night, and good luck.”
In this interview Hammarskjöld declared: "But the explanation of how man should live a life of active social service in full harmony with himself as a member of the community of spirit, I found in the writings of those great medieval mystics (Meister Eckhart and Jan van Ruysbroek) for whom 'self-surrender' had been the way to self-realization, and who in 'singleness of mind' and 'inwardness' had found strength to say yes to every demand which the needs of their neighbors made them face, and to say yes also to every fate life had in store for them when they followed the call of duty as they understood it."
His book, published in 1963, is a collection of his diary reflections starting in 1925 when he was 20 years old, and ending at his death in 1961. The diary was found in his New York house after his death, along with an undated letter addressed to then Swedish Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Leif Belfrage. In this letter Hammarskjöld wrote:
"Dear Leif, Maybe you remember I once told you that I nevertheless brought a kind of diary that I wanted you to take care of. Here it is. It started without thinking that someone would see it. With my recent fortunes, with everything that has been written and said about me has changed my state of mind. The notes provide the only true 'profile' that can be subscribed. And therefore I have in recent years with the publicity, though I continued to write for myself and not for the audience.
If you find them worthy to be printed, you are entitled to do so—as a sort of White Book concerning my negotiations with myself—and God.
(Hammarskjöld Journal 1963, p.5).

The foreword to the book is written by W.H. Auden, a friend of Hammarskjold's. "Markings" was described by a theologian, the late Henry P. Van Dusen, as "the noblest self-disclosure of spiritual struggle and triumph, perhaps the greatest testament of personal faith written ... in the heat of professional life and amidst the most exacting responsibilities for world peace and order."
Hammarskjöld writes, "We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours. He who wills adventure will experience it—according to the measure of his courage. He who wills sacrifice will be sacrificed—according to the measure of his purity of heart."
"Markings" is characterized by Hammarskjöld's intermingling of prose and haiku poetry in a manner exemplified by the 17th-century Japanese poet Basho in his Narrow Roads to the Deep North. In his foreword to "Markings" the English poet W. H. Auden quotes Hammarskjöld as stating "In our age, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action."
There is one piece written by one of the most significant personalities in the world that I have now admired during all these years. A writing I have used as my personal motto in life, verbalized in this small poem:

In Swedish:
Jag begär det orimliga: att livet skall ha en mening.
Jag kämpar för det omöjliga: att mitt liv skall få en mening.
Jag vågar inte, vet inte hur jag skulle kunna tro: att jag inte är ensam.

Dag Hammarskjöld, ”Vägmärken 1963”

In English:
I ask the impossible: that life must have meaning.
I fight for the impossible: that my life will have meaning.
I dare not, do not know how I would be led to believe that I am not alone.

Dag Hammarskjöld, "Markings 1963”

Like Dag Hammarskjöld, every person, will at one time or another in their life, reach one of these markings, when the question will be asked ”What do you really believe in?”
Until then, be able to and have the confidence and strength to say ... I'm not sure ... but I bend my knees and clasp my hands in the belief I will be respected and not rejected.

Written by Leif Rosqvist, the editor of New Sweden Cultural Heritage and SRIO newsletter in Portland, Oregon.