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Amelia Earhart--An American Heroine

Story ID:7020
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Biography
Location:Atchison Kansas USA
Year:1931
Person:Amelia Earhart
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We usually know a famous person for one part of their life, be it career, hobby, or service to others. Too often, we miss the full picture. Recently, I read a short biography about Amelia Earhart. I knew she’d been a famed woman pilot in the early days of aviation, but there was more than that. She was also a writer and lecturer. Most people only associate her name with being a record-setting female pilot in what was then a man’s world.

I found Lori Van Pelt’s book, Amelia Earhart—The Sky’s The Limit, published in 2005, to be illuminating. While reading, I followed Amelia Earhart, from her difficult childhood up to the day she disappeared when the author wrote that she .”…aimed to fly around the world’s waistline—the equator.”

Born in Atchison, Kansas, Amelia moved with her mother to live with grandparents and then to Canada. Her alcoholic father figured sporadically in her life, and yet she kept in touch with him and made a special effort to visit him often when he was dying.

She fell in love with airplanes and the idea of flying one at the age of ten when she saw a plane at a state fair. She never stopped loving planes and flew one after another in her adult life breaking record upon record. No sooner had she set one record than she tried for another. Had she lived in the space age, she probably would have tried to be the first woman to go to the moon.

To fund this expensive passion, she wrote articles for magazines like Cosmopolitan and even full length books about flying. Her presence at lecture halls across the country brought large audiences. She urged women to follow their dream as she had done, and she became a national heroine. She fought for equal rights for women, and because of her status in America, people listened more carefully. She became a pacifist and stood up for her anti-war views.

This tall, slender woman with a mop of curls, an infectious laugh and a sparkle in her eye captured the hearts of Americans and many other countries, as well. People read about her in newspapers, saw clips of her in newsreels at the movie theaters, and eagerly looked forward to the articles and books she wrote. She designed a line of the simple clothes like she wore herself. .

George Putnam, publisher and promoter, helped Amelia keep her name before the public. She relied on him and considered him a good friend, but she backed away when he proposed marriage. The woman who soared through the skies felt that marriage was far too confining. Perhaps her own parents’ rocky marriage figured into her reluctance.. George persisted and Amelia finally agreed to marry him in 1931. The night before the
wedding, she handed him a marriage contract—what today is termed a pre-nuptial agreement. He agreed to her terms and the wedding took place as planned.

When Amelia disappeared somewhere in the Pacific Ocean while on her around the world flight, George held out hope for a long time. He finally conceded that she’d died and grieved deeply, and a nation mourned with him.

The more I learned about Amelia Earhart, the more I admired her. She was a strong woman in an era when most men preferred women remain docile. She had principles and didn’t fear stating them. She had fears but overcame them. She’d be a good role model for young girls today.

Published in Ozarks' Sr Living March 2011