Monday, July 21, 2008

This I Believe - Kim Phuc

A couple weeks ago I heard this story on NPR and it still amazes me on many levels. It's the story of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, the Vietnamese girl that was so badly burned by napalm. The photo of her running naked is one of the most famous photos of the war.

The NPR This I Believe segment is the story of her journey, including forgiveness and her acceptance of Christ. That's surprising enough, in a day when whole families split for decades over the pettiest of things.

I was surprised to learn that there was also film of the attack and aftermath. I'd never seen it. I warn you that it's graphic, especially if you think just her clothes got burned and don't realize that she's burned so badly that her skin is already falling off.

Her story also reminds me that Lies My Teacher Told Me reported that out of the history books reviewed, only one book included just a single one of the below five famous photos of the Vietnam war. The other books didn't include a single one. These are the photos I grew up seeing. They're the ones you picture when you even think of the war. They are the photos that caused AP editors and news directors all over the country to make hard decisions about showing nudity and graphic violence. The ones our parents saw in the newspapers and on television at night. The ones that shaped their opinion of that war and any to come. The ones our kids are apparently growing up without ever seeing.

If they're old enough, you should ask your kids if they've ever seen any of these famous photos or the stories behind them. Or heck, maybe you've never even seen them yourself.
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