Phan Thị Kim Phúc probably didn’t think anything of the photographer who snapped a photo of her running stark naked down a dirt road. She was in excruciating pain and – as a child – had no idea what was going on around her. The photographer, Nick Ut, certainly had no idea of what he had captured on film. But that one single image of people scampering down a road in Trang Bang, Vietnam on June 8, 1972, following a napalm attack, captured the true horror of war and the carnage it unleashes upon innocent civilians.
For most Americans in 1972, the Vietnam quagmire had become unbearable. Gone was the glamor and nobility of war as instilled by World War II. Often called the “living room” war, Vietnam brought home the reality of what happens when nations can’t agree on what’s right and decide to fight it out like wild dogs. In some ways, things haven’t changed.
Amazingly Phúc survived the attack and now lives in Canada. She no longer views herself as that “Napalm Girl”. But that she did live through such an event is a true testament to the human spirit – something no chemical can destroy.