A new discovery brings some closure to one of the greatest lives of the 20th century, and reminds us to live bravely.
It’s easy enough to understand why the mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, now nearly 80 years ago, has continued to captivate generations of people. You don’t need to have been alive at the time (or had parents who were alive!) to understand the significance of a prominent, barrier-breaking woman like Earhart literally dropping off the radar. As one of the many people today still fascinated by Ms. Earhart’s life and dramatic disappearance, I felt the collective gasp of the Internet when news hit this week that researchers may finally have solved the mystery after all.
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But, as with any good mystery, unraveling what happened to Earhart has been full of twists and turns. A skeleton found on the island of Kiritabti in the Pacific Ocean in 1940 was discovered just a few years after the crash (Earhart was last seen on radar July 2, 1937), but summarily dismissed as not belonging to Earhart because it was identified as male. And that body continued to be dismissed, even though reports established that Earhart’s last radio distress signals (she tried to call for help nearly 100 times), all came from points near the location where the skeleton was found. But now, so many years later, forensic specialist Jeff Glickman says that the long-armed skeleton that made early researches think it belonged to a man could indeed be Earhart’s
This latest discovery would mean that Earhart died (along with her navigator, Frederick Noonan) as a castaway on an island, waiting for help. So researchers plan to explore the islands again, hoping to discover new clues. Though I wonder if we will ever really be able to solve the mysteries of Earhart’s last days. And, certainly, we’ll only be able to guess at what she was feeling, thinking or praying while she was stranded. Dying as a castaway is hardly something most of us could imagine. But I like to think she was as brave in dying as she was in living—as evidenced not only from her great feats but from the great quotations she was famous for. It’s nice to imagine that even in dire straits, Earhart was readying herself for the next adventure, even if it was no longer in this world.
Even though we’ll never know Earhart’s last thoughts, this discovery feels like good news, as it not only puts to rest one of the great mysteries of history, but also puts to rest one of the greatest women of all time.
And a great woman Earhart was. For reasons that are obvious—for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, for her bravery, for the way she chased her dreams and broke barriers—and also for reasons that are less obvious—such as creating a line of washable, affordable, easy-to-wear clothes for women (!) and for the legacy of wisdom she left behind for other women to follow.
In that vein, and in honor of Ms. Earhart, here are six of our favorite Amelia Earhart quotes to think on as we forge ahead on our own adventures:
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
“Never do things others can do and will do if there are things others cannot do or will not do.”
“The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.”
“I have often said that the lure of flying is the lure of beauty.”
“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.”
May Amelia Earhart’s words inspire us all to dream big and push forward, and may she rest in peace.
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