The picture of a 9-year-old running naked in Vietnam to escape the explosion of a napalm bomb remains one of the defining images of the Vietnam War.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by Nick Ut captivated a nation and solidified America’s opposition to that war.
The girl in that photo Kim Phuc became widely known as the Napalm Girl, but she says she’s so much more than that.
Now living in Ontario, CN, she wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times declaring “It’s Been 50 Years. I Am Not ‘Napalm Girl’ Anymore.”
Phuc would spend 14 months being treated at the hospital after being taken there by Ut himself who demanded the girl be treated after doctors told him they had higher priority cases, according to the Sunday Guardian Live.
She went to Cuba to study medicine and eventually took asylum in Canada.
“Photographer Nick Ut changed my life forever with that remarkable photograph. But he also saved my life,” she wrote in The Times.
Her opinion of the photograph has changed much since that day 50 years ago.
“The first time I saw it, I said, ‘What!’ and ‘Why did he take my picture like that?’ I felt so ugly and ashamed because I was naked. I was a child. I was really detesting it. I hated that picture … and I feel like, ‘Does anyone understand my pain?,” she said to the CBC.
Today Phuc runs Kim Foundation International, a nonprofit that describes its mission as to heal the wounds of innocent children.
She told Slate that having her own child changed her outlook on life.
“How dare I let my child suffer like that little girl in the picture? I have to do something to protect them, to take care of them,” Phúc said. “Do the best as a mother I can do. And not only for my baby, but all the children around the world.”
Kim now considers herself a mother, a grandmother and a survivor speaking out for peace.
“That picture became a very powerful gift for me to have a chance to have the opportunity to do something back to help people,” she says.
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