National Treasure #30: Phan Thi Kim Phúc

She’s the girl in the photo everyone remembers from the Vietnam War.  You know the one: A young girl runs naked down  a road, having pulled off her burning clothes after a South Vietnamese napalm strike.

She’s a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

She’s established a foundation to provide medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war.

She’s a Canadian.

In 1992, Kim Phúc and her husband, en route from Havana to Moscow on their honeymoon, got off the plane at Gander and asked for political asylum.

These National Treasures are done in no particular order, but today marks a milestone: I’m one-fifth of the way to my target of 150.  Kim Phúc gets pride of place because of what she’s endured and who she is.

“Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?” – Kim Phúc, NPR interview, 2008

 


This is one of a series on Canadian national treasures – my sesquicentennial project. They reflect people (living and dead), places and things that I think are worth celebrating about our country, and are done in no order of precedence.

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