SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

February 22, 2014

Kim overcomes war horror

BROOKE LAVALLEY DISPATCH    Kim Phuc poses for a photo with U.S. military veterans who heard her message of love and forgiveness last night at the Columbus Country Club. Kim was burned as a child by napalm dropped by the South Vietnamese air force on her village.

Woman turns war scars into forgiveness crusade


Forgiveness wasn’t easy for Kim Phuc. But once she found it, she felt free. • Phuc said it took her a long time to forgive those responsible for the napalm burns she suffered as a 9-year-old during the Vietnam War. • She said it took a long time for the “black coffee cup” in her heart to clear. But she prayed and, every day, it became a little clearer.

“One day, there was no more coffee left. … My cup was empty,” she told a crowd gathered last night at the Columbus Country Club on the East Side. (Feb. 13, 2014)   “God … he helped me to refill it with light, peace, joy, compassion, understanding, love, patience and forgiveness.   “I’m so thankful for that, and that is heaven on Earth for me.”

NICK UT ASSOCIATED PRESS This photo of 9-year-old Kim Phuc running  from a napalm attack remains an enduring image of the Vietnam war.

Phuc, now 50, spoke of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo that has made her 9-year-old image a symbol of the Vietnam War.

The image was captured by Associated Press photographer Huyng Cong “Nick” Ut in 1972 as Phuc ran naked — after having torn off her burning clothes — and screaming for safety after being burned in a South Vietnamese airstrike in her village of Trang Bang.

“Some people say it helped end the war,” she said. “I know it changed my life forever.”

She shared her journey at a Wealth Summit, a gathering of professionals sponsored by the Joseph Group Inc. investment-advisory firm and the Kephart Fisher law firm.

Matt Palmer, president of the Joseph Group, said the firms wanted to share Phuc’s powerful message of forgiveness.

“What a beautiful way, on Valentine’s Day, to think about love,” he said, “to be listening to someone who has learned how to love through forgiveness.”

After being burned, Phuc spent 14 months in the hospital and underwent 17 operations over the next 12 years. In 1992, shortly after being married, she defected to Canada, where she lives today.

She said she had only her purse and a camera when she and her husband decided to stay in Canada during a layover on their return from their honeymoon in Moscow to Havana, where they had attended college.

Learning to love God is one of the things that has helped her forgive, said Phuc, who became a Christian in 1982. She said she has learned many lessons in life, from the importance of love to the importance of education to the importance of freedom.

“To learn how to forgive the ones who caused my suffering was a huge challenge,” she said. “I started to pray, and I prayed a lot. I didn’t wake up one day and just say, ‘Yes, I forgive.’… It wasn’t easy at all.”

Through the years, she was made by the Vietnamese government to do interviews with foreign reporters, and she had to give up a dream of becoming a doctor when her health problems forced her to leave medical school.

She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and in documentaries, and shared her story with audiences around the world. She also founded the Kim Foundation International, which seeks to help child victims of war.

BROOKE LAVALLEY DISPATCH    Kim Phuc became a Christian and defected from Vietnam. She now lives in Canada with her husband.

She said the last lesson she learned was how to use the 1972 photo of her for good, after wanting to hide from it for so long. But as she tried to lead a quiet life in Canada, a photojournalist found her, and her picture again appeared in newspapers all over the world.

“It seemed to me that picture did not want to let me go,” she said. “I realized that, if I could not escape from that picture, I could work with it for peace.

“It is a symbol of war, but my life is a symbol of love, hope and forgiveness.”



Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: