Saturday, February 09, 2008

Words in the Mourning Time


1. The aftermath of a napalm attack by the South Vietnamese Air Force, June 8, 1972 (Year of the Rat) near Trang Bang, Vietnam. The running girl is Phan Thị Kim Phúc / Kim Phúc (b. 1963), along with relatives and fleeing ARVN soldiers (mistakenly bombed by their own side). Associated Press photographer Nick Ut (b. Huỳnh Công Út, 1953) earned a Pulitzer Prize for this shot; he also helped carry Kim Phúc to a hospital in Saigon, saving her life.

After the war, Kim Phúc attended university in Cuba and later defected to Canada, where, now in her mid-forties, she lives today. During the first Bill Clinton administration in the USA, she delivered a speech at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. She was and is a real person, a survivor of the Vietnam War.

2. Yesterday's post included an excerpt of a poem by Detroit-born Robert Hayden. Here's another one, from Words in the Mourning Time (1970):

Vietnam

bloodclotted name in my concsciousness
recurring and recurring
like the obsessive thought many midnights
now of my own dying

Vietnam
and I think of the villages
mistakenly burning
the schoolrooms devouring
their children
and I think of those who
were my students
brutalized
killing

wasted by horror
in ultimate loneliness
dying
Vietnam
Vietnam

8 comments:

JC said...

I had no idea there was footage associated with that iconic photo. That's some of the most gruesome video I've ever seen. I'm glad to hear that she's alive and apparently doing well today.

luma said...

The Poem is pretty! I always had curiosity to know if this girl had survived. Debtor, Érik! Beijus

the walking man said...

wondering if she is not crying in the film because she is in shock or because of all she had seen before that day?

Peace

mark

Charles Gramlich said...

It's good to know that she survived.

Erik Donald France said...

I worked for a woman from Vietnam in Philadelphia whose father remained in country while her mother became a refugee in the States. For some reason, her connection with this particular scene was palpable.

Just finished Dương Thu Hương's Novel Without A Name from the Vietnamese perspective & will post on it at some point. Also, John McCain's biography gives yet more insight into the brutalities of the war coming from every direction.

Lana Gramlich said...

So sad, so horrific. The photo reminds me of a more modern one I'll never forget--the single guy at Tiennamen Square (sp?), standing in front of a line of tanks with a grocery bag in hand.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks all for the comments!

Go, Amy Winehouse! Ooorah.

Mark, she seems incredibly stoic, brave, and in shock all at the same time.

Lana, your comment also reminds me of the Bonus March back in '32; hence the next post . . .

Johnny Yen said...

That image is one of the images of that war that is forever going to be in my head, along with the Viet Cong guerilla being summarily executed by the police chief and the helicopters being dumped in the ocean.

RE the bonus army-- two of the officers sent in to disperse the Bonus Army were Douglas Macarthur and Dwight Eisenhower.