It’s Been 50 Years. I Am Not ‘Napalm Girl’ Anymore.


By Kim Phuc Phan Thi. “I grew up in the small village of Trang Bang in South Vietnam. My mother said I laughed a lot as a young girl. We led a simple life with an abundance of food, since my family had a farm and my mom ran the best restaurant in town. I remember loving school and playing with my cousins and the other children in our village, jumping rope, running and chasing one another joyfully. All of that changed on June 8, 1972. I have only flashes of memories of that horrific day. I was playing with my cousins in the temple courtyard. The next moment, there was a plane swooping down close and a deafening noise. Then explosions and smoke and excruciating pain. I was 9 years old. Napalm sticks to you, no matter how fast you run, causing horrific burns and pain that last a lifetime. I don’t remember running and screaming, ‘Nóng quá, nóng quá!’ (‘Too hot, too hot!’) But film footage and others’ memories show that I did. You’ve probably seen the photograph of me taken that day, running away from the explosions with the others — a naked child with outstretched arms, screaming in pain. … In time, it became one of the most famous images from the Vietnam War. Nick [Ut] changed my life forever with that remarkable photograph. But he also saved my life. After he took the photo, he put his camera down, wrapped me in a blanket and whisked me off to get medical attention. I am forever thankful. Yet I also remember hating him at times. … Photographs, by definition, capture a moment in time. But the surviving people in these photographs, especially the children, must somehow go on. We are not symbols. We are human. We must find work, people to love, communities to embrace, places to learn and to be nurtured. It was only in adulthood, after defecting to Canada, that I began to find peace and realize my mission in life, with the help of my faith, husband and friends. I helped establish a foundation and began traveling to war-torn countries to provide medical and psychological assistance to children victimized by war, offering, I hope, a sense of possibilities. …”
NY Times
W – Phan Thi Kim Phuc


Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Nick Ut, center, flanked by Kim Phuc, left, holds the” Napalm Girl”, his Pulitzer Prize winning photo as they wait to meet with Pope Francis during the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at The Vatican, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

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