The name Amelia Earhart conjures up feelings of admiration and respect in the minds of millions of people. But personally, Amelia Earhart is more than just a name in the footnotes of history. Her enduring legacy as one of the world’s most celebrated aviatrices embodies the true spirit of American adventure. This legend, born 115 years ago in Atchison, Kansas, is an American heroine and one of my favorite icons.
Representing Amelia Earhart’s family for the past 25 years has grown my appreciation for their beloved relative, who is a beacon of hope and a symbol of courage in our society. Today’s Google Doodle, celebrating her 115th birthday, is the perfect tribute to the woman who is remembered for her groundbreaking achievements in aviation and her fight for gender equality. She is truly an admirable role model. As the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean, she was awarded the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross. Nicknamed “Lady Lindy”, Earhart set numerous aviation records before her disappearance over the Pacific Ocean on her final flight in 1937.
While her aviation achievements are legendary, her commitment to women’s rights is also noteworthy. Throughout her remarkable career she focused on proving that women were equal to men in “jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness, and willpower.”
Representing this was not an easy task during the Victorian Era. Earhart’s family has often told me about her competitive nature and inborn stubbornness. This, coupled with her strong convictions, routinely challenged the prejudicial barriers in her path. A fantastic example of this Victorian tomboy is how in the wintertime rather than daintily sitting on her sled she was instead a “belly-whopper”, flying down the hill head first on her stomach.
Even as an adventurous dreamer, Amelia still knew that making a lasting legacy involved an element of risk. In a letter to her husband, George Putnam, she wrote, "Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." The message she leaves behind is especially evident to me: start living your life. Start setting aside your fears. Start believing it is acceptable to fail, knowing if you did not fail, you did not try. Without a doubt, her philosophy and lifetime accomplishments transcend time.
Amelia’s legacy is timeless and remains stronger than ever more than 75 years after her disappearance, assuring her a perpetual place in history. Her daring belly-slamming essence lives on and will continue to make lasting impressions by inspiring many, like me, to pursue their dreams.
~Mark Roesler, attorney for the estate of Amelia Earhart