Celebrating Independence Day wishing wars away

Published 7:55 am Wednesday, July 2, 2008

By Staff
I am so used to being able to stop a television show, back up and hear a newspiece again.
Driving home this week, I was moved to tears while listening to WVPE, National Public Radio. I only wished I could rerun the entire commentary.
The program was "This I Believe," where people can record their beliefs. This one came from Canada and I am sorry to say I can't remember her name.
Everyone knows the speaker by a photo taken of her when she was nine years old in June 1972.
She is simply, "the child in the photo."
It was the Vietnam War and the little girl was running naked from her home after being burning with Napalm.
Her clothes were literally burned off her body.
This was the anniversary of that horrible day for that little girl, now a mother and wife living in Canada.
As a child, she does remember hearing planes, going outside their South Vietnamese home.
Her left arm, she said was burned the most. She remembers the pain, which is still with her every day of her life.
She was taken to a hospital where she went unconscious for a number of days. There she stayed for 14 months and endured at least 16 operations.
When she finally returned home, she discovered it was no more. It had been destroyed in the raid.
She said her first fear was she was be considered ugly and different after being scared.
Instead though, it was being taken out of school by her government to be used as an anti-war symbol that was so hard on her.
She had wanted to become a doctor, after her experience, she said.
Her essay though wasn't filled with hate. Hearing, in her own calm voice, how she has forgiven those who maimed her, made her suffer and forever changed her life, was a changing moment for me.
How this child, this woman, could forgive and wish that the world would all come to know peace and end war must have been so hard.
She called her essay "The Long Road to Forgiveness."
Looking on the Internet, I have found her name, Kim Phc and that of the Associated Press photographer who received a Pulitzer Prize for his photo, Nick /t.
According to the article, which also shows the famous photo, he was the one who took her and other children to the hospital, some of whom died. He would continue to visit her until he left during the fall of Saigon, three years later.
A moment captured for all time of a little girl in pain – pain caused by other human beings..
Is her message of forgiveness and peace one which will be heard in my lifetime – in that of my granddaughter or her children?
Will there ever be a time when everyone is free and gender, language, color, or religion doesn't matter?