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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Grand Canyon & Amelia Earhart

This Day in History: January 11

First thought that probably comes to mind is the question, "What does the Grand Canyon have to do with Amelia Earhart?" It is the day, January 11 that formulates the connection, in two different years, of course...in fact, different decades. Let's first take a peek at the Grand Canyon since at the time of its event, Amelia was only 11 years old.

The Grand Canyon is one of many miraculous icons representative of America, the Beautiful. Mother Nature has a way of creating breathtaking landscapes with her magic wand. While rain, wind, hail, even fire can leave behind total destruction, each can at some point create an entirely new scene carving out a totally different landscape that is often quite astonishing. While we cannot prevent some of the changes destined by Mother Nature, we are able to protect, to some extent, devastation brought about by human hands.

Thus, the event of January 11, 1908...

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon
  “The region . . . is, of course, altogether valueless…after entering it, there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first and the last party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be unvisited and undisturbed.” — Joseph C. Ives, 1857-58, after exploring the Grand Canyon
For centuries upon centuries, the Grand Canyon was considered sacred ground. After all, it was indigenous to the Native American Indians long before white man ever visited and stood on its rim in awe of a breathtaking sunrise or sunset. Once Westward Expansion began, this opened the door to exploration and discovery leading to the railroad and shantytowns. It was during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt that the need for protecting the Grand Canyon from logging, mining and other possible damaging enterprises was recognized. 

“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he said. “Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt
Roosevelt Declares Grand Canyon a National Monument
January 11, 1908

Roosevelt took crucial steps in removing the Grand Canyon from the public arena in order to protect it from extensive development. After all, this unusual gorge took its shape during millions of years of erosion. In a way, this declaration led to the protection of a sacred tribal land preventing it from becoming degraded, devastated, contaminated and polluted for anyone’s gain.

Now, what about Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart was an American aviator. On January 11, 1935, she began a trip to Oakland, California from Honolulu. With the successful landing in Oakland the next day, she became the first person to fly to the United States mainland from Hawaii.

Underwood and Underwood/Library of Congress

The New York Times described the first moments of the flight:
“She taxied down slowly to her starting point in the middle of the field and then gave the plane the gun and got up quickly. As the ship went down the runway the propeller blast blew big chunks of mud from the field and over the red fuselage.”

Amelia Earhart, pictured above in 1928, set many aviation records and became the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Amelia Earhart: First Woman to Fly to the United States Mainland from Hawaii
January 11, 1935

Amelia Earhart was a pioneer in aviation, especially for women pilots. She succeeded in many achievements with her most famous being in 1932.  She became the first woman (and just the second person, after Charles Lindbergh) to fly solo across the Atlantic. She was also the first woman to fly as a passenger across the Atlantic, the first woman to fly solo across the United States, and the first person to fly to Mexico City from Los Angeles. In addition, she set several altitude and speed records.

 The legend lives on...

The author Camille Paglia wrote in a 1996 New York Times Magazine article: “Amelia Earhart symbolizes modern woman’s invasion of the male world of daring action and adventure. … Dashing in man-tailored shirts, jackets and slacks, Earhart became an icon of the rapidly evolving new woman who sought self-definition and fulfillment outside the home.”

Earhart in the Electra cockpit, c. 1936
Source: en.wikipedia.org
Amelia Earhart and Lockheed Electra 10E NR 16020, c. 1937
Source: en.wikipedia.org