Kim Phuc: Icon of the Vietnam War
Mills Godwin Jr. Building - Auditorium
President's Lecture Series; Jacobson/Wallenberg Humanitarian Speaker
Kim Phuc was the 9-year-old girl photographed on June 8, 1972, screaming and running naked down a road near Saigon, her skin on fire with napalm. The photo, by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut, was transmitted around the world and later won a Pulitzer Prize.
After recovering from her ordeal, which she was not expected to survive, Kim was used by the communists in propaganda films and supervised daily as a "national symbol of war." In 1992, she and her husband defected when their plane, which was returning to Havana from Moscow, stopped to refuel in Newfoundland. Today, Kim lives near Toronto.
When Vietnam veterans groups heard of Kim's whereabouts, they invited her to participate at a service in Washington, D.C., as part of a Veterans Day observance. She agreed because she wanted to share her experience and help others heal from the pain of war. While there, she spoke with a veteran who coordinated the air strike on her village, and she forgave him.
In recognition of Kim's struggle, a foundation has been established to further heal the wounds of war. The Kim Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is committed to funding programs to heal children in war-torn areas of the world.
In 1997 UNESCO named her a Goodwill Ambassador for Culture of Peace.
Phuc, Kim, "Kim Phuc: Icon of the Vietnam War" (2008). President's Lecture Series. 114.