In 1972 a Pulitzer prize-winning photo was published of a nine-year-old girl burned by napalmrunning down the road. It became a symbol of the Vietnam War. The “napalm girl” was Kim Phuc Phan who is now 46. She lives in Canada. I always wondered what happened to the napalm girl. I thought she may have died of her injuries; I’m glad she didn’t
USA Today has posted an article titled “Vietnamese girl in iconic photo offers a message of hope to burn victims.”
Speaking at the Phoenix Society for Burn Victims, Kim Phuc Phan says she was burned over sixty-five percent of her body. Further she was in a burn unit for 14 months and had 17 surgeries. She still has occasional pain but has decided to succeed in life anyway and that is her message: “Hope.”
She concedes she should have died.
Kim Phuc Phan’s history speaks to the tragedy of the Vietnam War.
This was a war where both political parties were wrong. Our government made one bad move after another and our country, soldiers and people like Kim Phuc Phan are still paying a price almost 25 years after the end of the war.
I first have to say again that at that time Secretary of Defense Robert McNamera “hawked” the war only to come out a few years ago in a book and say he was wrong about the war and he knew it. Essentially he wanted forgiveness. It will have to come from God.
I was in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson had escalated the war beginning to bomb Hanoi and weapons like napalm were used more.
The problem was that the Viet Cong lived in tunnels, literally. We could have bombed them 24/7 and they would have just waited it out. The people who suffered were people, and especially children, like Kim Phuc Phan.
Kim Phuc Phan’s photo tells the real story of what started out supposedly as a “police action” to stop a “Domino effect” in Southeast Asia of Communism.
The lives of 58,000 American soldiers were lost. The injuries were staggering. It is not known how many Vietnamese on both sides were killed and injured.
There are untold numbers of illegitimate babies sired by American soldiers that are about 25-40-years-old today and are eschewed by the Vietnamese culture.
Women and young girls were put in prostitution and the drug culture flourished primarily for Americans.
Today in America we have an incredible health care burden from sick and wounded soldiers from the war as well as soldiers like me who have some element of Agent Orange.
The Vietnam War is a black spot on America’s history sadly promoted by a very few people when all is said and done.
In this case no set of political beliefs is without blame; it was joint stupidity.
I’m happy to know Kim Phuc Phan survived. Too many other innocent kids didn’t.