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WINNIPEG —; It was an image that shook the world. The moment in history was captured 43 years ago, but like the scars she still bears on her body, the memory of that day will always remain with Kim Phuc.
“I saw four bombs landing down and suddenly the fire was everywhere around me,” Phuc told Global News in an interview.
Phuc shares her story around the world, and filled Grant Memorial Church in Winnipeg on Sunday. Phuc was 9 years old when the photo was taken by a young Vietnamese photographer, Nick Ut. The photographer took Phuc to the hospital after taking the photograph, she now considers him a part of her family.
“I call him Uncle Ut,” Phuc laughs.
The photo captures her running for her life, naked, after South Vietnamese planes dropped napalm on her village. Phuc’s back and left arm were badly burned. When she initially saw the photo as a child, she admits she was embarrassed.
“As a girl, I [saw] that and I said oh no, why did he take that picture in the moment I was so ugly, and naked,” she said.
But soon that photograph shaped her life and became one of the most powerful images of all time. One that some people say “ended the Vietnam War.”
“I look at that picture, it’s a powerful gift for me. I accepted it,” said Phuc. “I went back to that picture and decided to work for peace.”
Despite the deep scars on her body that still cause pain when the weather changes, Phuc claims her heart is healed, which she says is the closure she truly needed to move forward.
“I was able to learn to forgive those who caused my suffering,” said Phuc. “And I can tell you, that has really helped me. I am free from hatred.”
Her speech left dozens in the crowd in tears.