Fifty years ago, a horrific photograph of children fleeing a deadly napalm attack in Vietnam was burned into the consciousness of the American public. This month, one of those children received her final burn treatment.
Kim Phuc Phan Thi was only 9 years old when she was at the center of Nick Ut’s photograph, naked and screaming in agony as she ran down a road, The Guardian reported. Napalm was dropped by a South Vietnamese Skyraider attack aircraft on the village of Trang Bang. Ut, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the June 8, 1972, photograph, drove the child, forever known as “Napalm Girl,” to find medical treatment.
Phuc spent more than a year in a hospital recovering from her injuries, according to The Guardian.
On Tuesday, Phuc, 59, received her final burn treatment at the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, People reported.
Dr. Jill Waibel, who performed the procedure “to help her scars and pain,” was also seen in a photo speaking with cameras about the milestone moment, People reported.
Phuc told WFOR-TV that she has received 12 treatments after suffering severe pain because of her burns.
“Twelve times, and now, yes, absolutely, after those treatments my pain is so much better,” she told the television station.
Now, she will only need minor laser treatments to complete her recovery, according to WFOR.
The mental anguish, however, has never gone away.
“Napalm sticks to you, no matter how fast you run, causing horrific burns and pain that last(s) a lifetime,” Phuc wrote in an op-ed last month for The New York Times.
“Nick changed my life forever with that remarkable photograph. But he also saved my life. After he took the photo, he put his camera down, wrapped me in a blanket and whisked me off to get medical attention. I am forever thankful,” wrote in the Times. “Yet I also remember hating him at times. I grew up detesting that photo. I thought to myself, “I am a little girl. I am naked. Why did he take that picture? Why didn’t my parents protect me? Why did he print that photo? Why was I the only kid naked while my brothers and cousins in the photo had their clothes on?” I felt ugly and ashamed.”
Phuc was reunited in Miami with Ut last week, WTVJ reported.
Phuc, who now lives in Toronto, and Ut, who is retired and lives in Los Angeles, said they have made it their mission to spread a message of peace.
“I’m really so happy to see her, we’re like family now,” Ut told WTVJ.
“I wish everyone learning how to live with love, hope and forgiveness and if everyone can learn to live like that we don’t need war at all,” Phuc told the television station.
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