On the 40th anniversary of the iconic black-and-white photo taken of her during the Vietnam War, the war victim and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Kim Phuc urged the world to "think twice before starting wars," and "to learn to negotiate and reconcile."
On June 8, 1972, a lifetime of chronic pain and medication began for nine-year-old Kim Phuc, when a napalm bomb strike by a South Vietnamese warplane on her village Trang Bang incinerated her clothes and continued to burn fiercely into and under her skin. Naked, and fleeing from the fire with her brothers and sisters, Kim would soon be recognized worldwide as "that girl" in the Pulitzer Prize winning image that has come to symbolize the inhumanity of war.
In an interview with UNESCO marking the 40th anniversary of the tragic incident, Kim shared her views on what that photo means for her today.
"Forgiveness is more powerful than hatred," Kim exhorts, "and love is more powerful than any weapon of war."
When asked what message she would like to give to people on the 40th anniversary, the 49-year-old said "they should think twice before starting wars, they should learn to negotiate and reconcile."
To a question what action she would propose to the public in order to make the world a better place, Kim replied: "Focus on learning from the past, learn more and do better in the future. To defend and promote education for children if they want to make the world a better place. I would also urge them to practice forgiveness, to live with love and hope and to remember that we are not perfect. To move on when tragedies happen and find a way to help each other."
Kim said her iconic photo of a nine-year-old running in panic on the war-field is "a powerful gift for peace," but at the same time "symbolizes the horrors of war and evokes feelings of fear and terror" in her.
Kim currently lives in the Canadian city of Toronto with her husband and two sons tirelessly promoting peace and reconciliation through her Kim Foundation International, established in 1997. It helps child victims of war by providing medical and psychological support so that they overcome their traumatic experiences. Kim funds schools and hospitals projects worldwide, including in Afghanistan, Kenya, Romania, Tadjikistan, Timor-Leste, and Uganda.
In 1997, UNESCO named her a Goodwill Ambassador for Peace. She is a member of many humanitarian and voluntary organizations. Kim is also a recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and the 2004 "Order of Ontario."
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1955 to the fall of Saigon in 1975. The war was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its Communist allies, and the government of South Vietnam, backed by the United States and other anti-Communist countries.
The war ended in a victory for the Communists, costing at least a million lives.
by RTT Staff Writer
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