A remarkable testimony is now emerging from the young child who was the subject of an iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken almost 50 years ago.
In June 1972, as the U.S. was drawing down troops from the Vietnam conflict, the South Vietnamese air force mistakenly dropped a load of napalm on the village of Trảng Bàng. Associated Press photographer Nick Ut was recording the carnage from a road leading out of town when he saw several children, including a naked young girl, burned by the blast, running down the road. The picture he took became one of the iconic images of the terrible conflict.
Phan Thi Kim Phuc (pictured) was that nine-year-old who became known informally as the "napalm girl."
"I remember June 8, 1972. I saw the airplane," she shared in a recently released documentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "It was so loud, so close to me. Suddenly the fire everywhere around me. The fire burned off my clothes."
Kim, who is now a Canadian citizen, was taken to a U.S. hospital where she survived third-degree burns to 30 percent of her body. The blast left her deeply scarred – and not just her body.
"It built me up with hatred, bitterness and anger. I was just living with the question: Why me?" said Kim. "In 1982, I wanted to take my life because I thought after I die, no more suffer, no more pain."
But at her darkest hour, in the capital city of a communist country, a miracle took place in her life: "I found the New Testament in the library in Saigon. In Christmas 1982, I became a Christian."
Jesus, she says, changed her life. "Since I have faith, my enemies list became my prayer list. I realized myself, 'Wow, Kim, you pray for your enemies. This means you love.' Forgiveness set my heart free."
A video of her interview with CBC/Radio-Canada can be seen here.