from LBJ Library via Wikimedia Creative Commons
Nick Ut Thursday became the first journalist ever to receive the National Medal of Arts, but just hours later a person he described as a drug addict assaulted him.
“Today my friend Mark Edward Harris go to have dinner with David Burnett. Outside White House we were attacked by drug addict young guy,” he wrote on Instagram. “He knocked me down and hurt my ribs, back and left leg. Same leg I have metal in from mortar in Vietnam War. Maybe break
my Leica (camera) too. Mark did martial art to defend me. Secret Service so fast to come over and help.”
Ut did not post any information on his condition, but did says briefly “he hope to be OK. Next two weeks,” in reply to a poster who left a message asking Ut about his condition .
Harris posted a photo of the incident on his own Instagram page showing the attacker on the ground and Ut standing up next to Secret Service officers. Harris described Ut as “much better.”
Friday evening, Ut posted more photos from the medal ceremony to his Instagram page without mentioning anything about the attack.
It’s the highest award given to artists and art patrons by the federal government.
UT is best known for his photograph during the Vietnam War of a young girl running naked as her body burned from the devastating impact of a napalm bomb. After taking the photograph, he immediately rushed the girl to the hospital and saved her life.
The celebrated photographer spent 51 years taking pictures for the Associated Press before retiring in 2017.
Ut accepted the award from President Trump. He decided to participate in the ceremony despite the decision of another recipient to decline it. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick elected not to take part in protest of the Capitol siege last week which he blamed on President Trump.
“It’s my personal life. I’m an old man now, so I’m happy the president gave me an award,” Ut told Newsweek. “I wanted to be here. For me, it’s more about receiving an award from a president.”
Ut presented the president with his Pulitzer Prize-award winning photograph signed by both him and the girl in the photo, Phan Thi Kim Phuc.
Though retired, he still has the picture bug. He plans to stay in Washington, DC for the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. He hopes to get inside and capture a moment between the two.
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