NAPALM GIRL: VIETNAM VETERANS EMBRACE KIM PHÚC AND HER MESSAGE OF LOVE DURING MILWAUKEE VISITMilwaukee Independent
Posted by Lee Matz
Jun 14, 2019
“Faith is what helped me learn how to move on, and rediscover joy in my life. I had to let go of my suffering since I was that 9 year old girl and forgive those who caused it.” Phúc added. “So, now my focus is on those children who were like me. I can use my life to give them hope. I am still alive, so I have to use my voice to speak for them, and all those who can’t. Children are suffering right now, and I want them to know, never give up.”
One of the most unforgettable images from the Vietnam War was of a little girl running naked, after surviving an accidental napalm attack on the village of Trảng Bàng. The composition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph “The Terror of War,” taken by Vietnamese photographer Nick Ut, captured the shattered innocence and tragedy of the American conflict there.
No longer that 9-year-old little girl, Phan Thị Kim Phúc commemorated the 47th anniversary of that bombing during a visit in Wisconsin on June 8, with a powerful message of hope. Known as the “Napalm Girl,” Kim Phúc still carries the physical and emotional scars from that day in 1972.
> “In history, there have always been stories of resistance and fighting back. But now, my weapon is love and forgiveness,” said Phúc. “It all comes from that little girl in the napalm photo, and her life in Vietnam means a lot to me.”
Phúc traveled from her home in Canada to several cities across Wisconsin, giving keynote presentations and signing copies of her 2017 book Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness and Peace.
Nick Ut, the Associated Press photographer who captured the iconic war image of her pain and desperation, joined Phúc for her visit to Madison. The events were designed to help raise funds to build a Peace Library in the Vietnamese province where she was born and raised. Children’s Library International has more than such 30 libraries in Vietnam and Cambodia, and number 35 will be in Trảng Bàng, 30 minutes north of what was then Saigon.
Chuck Theusch, a Wisconsin native and veteran who served in Vietnam from 1969-70, started the foundation in 1999 after his first return trip to the country. He had originally only intended to sponsor an orphan, like other veterans were doing at the time.
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