A war victim honors those who saved her

The woman in this photo below owes her life to the man she’s smiling with.

Her name is Kim Phuc. His name is Nick Ut. Forty years ago last week, something horrible happened. Ut then a photographer for the Associated Press captured it on film, and it is the iconic image of the Vietnam War.

In a terrible mistake, the South Vietnamese air force, thinking it was attacking a Viet Cong outpost, dropped a load of napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The girl in the photo is 9 years old. She is naked because the napalm melted off her clothes. It did horrible things to her skin. The video is here. It is extremely graphic.

The girl is Kim Phuc. The boy on the left is her younger brother. He lost an eye.

The following is from the AP.

Ut, who was 21 at the time, heard Phuc’s screams as she ran down the road to escape her burning village, and snapped the photo that became famous around the world.

The Vietnamese photographer then drove the badly burned child to a small hospital, where he was told she was too far gone to help. He flashed his American press badge, demanded that doctors treat the girl and left assured that she would not be forgotten.

… Ut said he cried when he saw her running. He said if he didn’t help and she died he would have killed himself. …

A few of days after the image shocked the world, a number of British journalists including Christopher Wain, a correspondent for the British Independent Television Network who had given Phuc water from his canteen and drizzled it down her burning back at the scene, fought to have her transferred to the American-run hospital. It was the only facility in Saigon equipped to deal with her severe injuries.

“When we found in her in the British hospital it was in very un-sterile conditions,” Wain said Friday. “I asked one of the nurses how she was and the nurse looked at her and said, ‘Oh, she’ll die maybe tomorrow or maybe next day.’ It was obvious it was very urgent.”

Martha Arsenault, a nurse who cared for her at the American hospital, said when Phuc got to the American hospital nobody thought she’d make it.

“Everybody, the doctors, they all thought she wouldn’t because she was just so burnt,” she said.

But she did survive because the photojournalist got involved. As she says above, if he hadn’t been there, she would have died.

Nick Ut won the Pulitzer Prize for this photo. Kim Phuc now lives in Toronto. She is a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Last week, she honored those who saved her at an anniversary dinner in Toronto. She said: “I’m so grateful he was there. … He helped me and rushed me to the nearest hospital. He saved my life. He’s my hero.”

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Photo finish: Obama vs. Perry

Let’s say the 2012 will boil down to Barack Obama vs. Rick Perry. Here’s what you can expect (of course you’ll have to work your way through the implied message and the lies):

The creator of this little gem is Rush Limbaugh’s brother, and you can see what’s going on here.

1) The Republicans are going to paint the Texas governor as a war hero, even though he never saw a day of combat. The closest he got to a war zone was flying a cargo plane in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, when in 1972, the real war was winding down thousands of miles away in Southeast Asia. They’re going to paint Obama as a radical or pimped out black guy, safely in the states. They won’t mention that Perry’s 22 comes near the end of the Vietnam War, while Obama’s 22 takes place during the Reagan administration, which gave us “The Raid-a in Grenada.” And don’t forget that the last time a real war hero got the presidential nomination, it was John Kerry, who the Republicans completely denigrated as a false hero even though he was wounded in combat, in Vietnam.

2) Note the prominence of the names: James Richard “Rick” Perry vs. Barack Hussein Obama II. A wholesome American name against a radical African Muslim name. Of course, at 22, Obama was going by “Barry.” Maybe I’m not paying attention, but I don’t see Barry anywhere on the photo.

3) Boy vs. boy. Read into it what you will, but the message here is that Perry isn’t a boy, he’s a man in uniform, while Obama is a “boy” in every racially denigrating way you can interpret.

4) The best part of this lie: Obama isn’t 22 in the photo. That photo was taken in 1980, when he was 19. He was a freshman in college. Perry’s photo is taken when he was 22, in 1972. He’s already graduated. (Obama was 11 in 1972.) Here’s what Perry looked like when he was 19 or 20:

Troy Donahue, meet General Patton. What a dork.

So there you have another set of lies from the right. The eras were completely different. The historical context is distorted beyond belief. The racial stereotype triggers have all been set. And the age comparison is nothing more than a lie.

Some idiot with Fox News will say a picture is worth a thousand words. But for this little piece of propaganda, I can think of two. One begins with a B. The other begins with an S.