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Photo Comes To Life

The world did not know her name, but it could never forget her face.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi was the little girl, her arms outstretched, running naked and screaming,  down a dirt road, in Vietnam, in 1972, fire and the war raging behind her. The picture by AP photographer Nick Ut shocked the world, and helped turn the tide of public opinion in the U.S. against the Vietnam war.

Last week, Kim Phuc was at Friends Academy, in Locust Valley, talking about her experiences, her life, and the message of hope and peace she carries around the world as a a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO, a position she took in 1996.

Using a poster she created, Kim Phuc told the story of her journey from a terrified nine year old to a gentle and charismatic woman who is working to make the world a safer place. The bottom half of the poster contains the iconic photograph by Ut, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his picture.  

“I saw the airplanes when I ran out of the temple where we had sought shelter,” she told the audience. “I saw four bombs and suddenly there was fire everywhere around me.”

Sixty-five percent of her body was burned by the napalm.

Ut took her to a hospital and eventually she was sent to another hospital where she spent 14 months in rehabilitation. Based on that experience, she decided to study to be a doctor and ten years later she was a student at a university in  what is now Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. But it was not to be. The Vietnamese government, finding out she was alive, used her for propaganda and cut short her education. She says that the emotional pain of not being able to realize her dream was worse than the physical pain.

In 1992 she sought asylum in Canada and today is a Canadian citizen, married and with two sons, Thomas, 18, and Steven 15.

The top half of the poster is a photo of Kim Phuc whispering into baby Thomas’ ear. “I have to let him know what happened,” she said, noting that as he is listening, he is looking forward to the future. The scaring on her shoulders from the fire is visible; she still suffers a great deal of pain.  

She says her goal is to let people know the horrors of war and also to bring her vision of the beautiful world that could happen if we lived with love.

Kim Phuc does more than talk. She is the founder of The Kim Foundation International, a non-profit that seeks to heal the wounds suffered by children during war and to restore hope and happiness by providing medical and psychological assistance. The foundation supports projects such as a refugee camp in Tajikistan and a hospital for mothers and children in northern Uganda.

“We can’t change the past,” she said, “but with love, we can heal the future.”

News

Looking for a place to work on your bedside manner and start a promising new career in the process? Look no farther than your hometown.

The Vocational Education and Extension Board (VEEB), a division of the county that oversees educational facilities such as the Fire Service Academy and EMS Academy, recently transplanted one of its facilities — The School of Practical Nursing — into a new location right in the heart of Hicksville, where they recently held an open house to celebrate their new home.

A group of like-minded local residents banded together and saved more than 200 area trees from the chopping block — for now.

A state judge ordered Nassau County and the Department of Public Works to stop cutting down trees along South Oyster Bay Road, granting a temporary restraining order to a group of residents spearheading an effort to save the trees.

State Supreme Court Judge Antonio Brandveen scheduled a hearing on Thursday, Oct. 16 for the county to address complaints from residents, in particular a group called Operation STOMP (Save Trees Over More Pavement) founded by Hicksville native Tanya Lukasik.The Public Works department had planned to removed more than 200 30-foot trees in communities ranging from Plainview, Bethpage, Hicksville and Syosset.


Sports

The Girls Varsity soccer team, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wore pink uniforms and pink socks in their game on Oct. 8 against MacArthur whom they defeated 1-0. The girls and boys soccer programs at Hicksville High School are selling pink ribbon car magnets with a soccer ball and HHS on it with the words “Kick Cancer” on the ribbon. All the money raised will go to the Sarah Grace Foundation, which is a local foundation trying to beat pediatric cancer. The players plan to raise $1,000 for this organization

— From Hicksville High School

Hicksville native progressing through Mets system

The Mets minor league system is enjoying a rare period of prosperity. For years, it was barren due to trading off high-ceiling players for major leaguers, or neglecting the draft in favor of the free agent market. Since General Manager Sandy Alderson took over, the organization has reversed course and put a much greater emphasis on player development. During his second-to-last season, however, former GM Omar Minaya took a chance and drafted a local catcher, Cam Maron, out of Hicksville High School in the 34th round.


Calendar

Board of Education Meeting

October 22

Oktoberfest

October 25-26

Pancake Breakfast

October 26



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