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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

A forecast for steady rain did not deter hundreds of children, students, faculty members and community residents from attending Hicksville’s Homecoming on Sept. 13 at Hicksville High School.

 

The day was full of festivities for everyone, including the High School’s traditional family fair, which was held across the backfield before the hometown Comets’ game against the

Levittown Macarthur Generals. The fair featured a variety of foods, games, a bouncy house and booths for various school clubs and many other attractions. Faculty members reconnected with their students — both past and present — and there were countless community members and alumni proudly wearing combinations of Hicksville’s orange and black.

Dutch Lane Elementary School teacher Jaimie Fleschner went from the classroom to the pitcher’s mound recently, winning KJOY’s “Best Teacher On Long Island” contest.  

 

Fleschner still doesn’t know who nominated her for the contest and only found out she had been entered after she got a phone call from the radio station. 

 

“They told me I was nominated and I was completely shocked and flattered. It was a great feeling,” says Fleschner. 


Sports

This November, Hicksville resident Marlo Signoracci will head to Florida for Ironman, a demanding, long-distance triathlon that includes biking, running and swimming. Here, she shares her story as she prepares for one of the most physically challenging athletic events out there.

 

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you! 

At 6 a.m. on a blustery Saturday morning 1,600 people arrived at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park to participate in the 27th annual Runner’s Edge Tobay triathlon and tri- relay race. The participants were from all over Long Island, some from upstate NY, a few from out of state and were all ages and some even with disabilities but all came with one goal in mind, to finish.

The course starts out as a half mile swim in Oyster Bay Harbor, then a 9.3 mile bike ride through Oyster Bay, Laurel Hollow, and Cove neck which is very hilly but finishes with a 2.9 mile downhill to the finish. Then the riders have one more leg of the race which is 3.2 mile run through Mill Neck and Brookville, up to Planting Fields Arboretum and back down to Roosevelt Park to the finish line.


Calendar

Board of Ed Meeting - September 17

Back To School Night - September 18

Pasta Dinner Fundraiser - September 20


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com