July is Amelia Earhart’s month. She was born into a respected family of Midwestern gentry on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas, and, along with her two-years-younger sister, Muriel, or “Pidge,” she enjoyed a near-idyllic childhood despite a father who liked his booze so much that Amelia became a lifetime teetotaler.
Eighty-three years ago, on July 2, 1937, Amelia “disappeared” while on an open-ocean flight to Howland Island in the central Pacific, and instead landed off Barre Island at Mili Atoll in the Japanese controlled Marshall Islands, about 830 miles to the northwest. Soon she and Fred Noonan, her navigator, were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Saipan, where they suffered lonely, wretched deaths at the hands of the bloodthirsty prewar Japanese military.
During her brief 40 years, Amelia Earhart became a household name in an era filled with a “War to End all Wars” that would soon be eclipsed by a worse one, and more larger-than-life personalities than anyone can name anymore.
From Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh, to John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde and Al Capone, on to Adolph Hitler, “Uncle Joe” Stalin, Winston Churchill and FDR, the times were defined by heroes and villains whose lives — even as chronicled by primitive radio and newspapers — were of a magnitude unimagined by today’s Millennials, rooted in their Internet-based virtual realities.
Though it’s impossible to compare the relative star-power of the giants of the first half of the 20th century, it’s fair to say that few if any stirred the public imagination like Amelia Earhart. Attractive, down-to-earth, principled, courageous beyond measure, Amelia was loved and admired by everyone with a pulse, and she carved out a unique niche in history that will forever be hers alone.
This year, as we approach the Ides of July, we pause to reflect, remember and pay our respects to this great American, regardless of the fact that nothing of significance in Amelia’s cause has happened during the past year. For more background, I invite you to read July 2, 2018: 81 years of lies in the Earhart case; July 2, 2019, AE’s last flight anniversary arrives without change; and last year’s July 24 post, For Amelia Earhart, it’s Happy Birthday No. 122!
For the past three decades everything the public sees, hears or reads are the lies of those who seek to profit on blatant falsehoods about the “Great Aviation Mystery,” while the truth has been lying in plain sight, available to all who seek it.
Amelia’s life and legacy is rarely celebrated down here anymore, and when it is, it’s usually in some approved, sanitized version, lacking in its most important aspect. For the past three decades everything the public sees, hears or reads are the lies of those who seek to profit on blatant falsehoods about the “Great Aviation Mystery,” while the truth has been lying in plain sight, available to all who seek it.
On the banks of the Missouri River in truth-averse Atchison, Kansas, where Amy Otis Earhart brought Amelia into the world, the locals present a yearly Amelia Earhart Festival during the week commemorating her birth. These galas are populated by herds of the ignorant, who flock to Atchison, where the “Great Aviation Mystery” is celebrated annually, as well as to the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, where the official lies are recirculated to tourists daily.
It’s only a small stretch to believe that among the benighted at these Atchison shindigs, some actually imagine that, just maybe, Amelia is still flying around out there in the timeless ether, searching endlessly for a way back to 1937 Howland Island — an eternal, romantic enigma, forever lost in mystery. This is a popular myth among the most gullible, and in Atchison, where anything but the despised “Japanese Capture Theory” is permissible, it’s a plausible idea. Most of the clueless, well propagandized by the mainstream media, wonder only whether Amelia crashed and sank off Howland Island or landed on Nikumaroro, where she starved to death, along with navigator Fred Noonan, on an atoll teeming with natural food and water sources.
Considering our current national crises, it’s not surprising that Atchison’s 2020 Amelia Earhart festival has been cancelled, since everything else has been scratched as well. Moreover, thanks to the politically driven insanity spawned by the national Covid-19 lockdown, as well as the Black Lives Matter and “social justice demonstrations,” better defined as riots, there’s no room in the headlines for another phony Earhart search, one good thing amid the chaos we’re enduring. Talk about finding silver linings.
During the past year, the only news about Amelia Earhart, as usual, was the fake kind, the pre-fabricated, shiny object that our media constantly produces. The big difference was that ocean explorer Robert Ballard took center stage, rather than the long-discredited Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR. Soon after this new boondoggle was announced, “NatGeo, Ballard in new phony Earhart “search,’ ” my only question was why someone like Ballard would participate in such a dishonest charade, and what he thought he could gain. I’m still wondering.
Armed with another grandiose title, the doomed search, dubbed “Expedition Amelia,” was filmed by the consistently unreliable National Geographic for airing in late October. As always with these bogus Nikumaroro time-wasters, you had to do a real search to find any news about Ballard’s failure.
“‘Tantalizing clue’ marks end of Amelia Earhart expedition,” National Geographic timidly informed readers in its Aug. 26 eulogy. “While the location of the aviator’s plane remains elusive, an artifact re-discovered after 80 years may spark new avenues of inquiry,” the subhead cunningly adds. My post the following day, “Ballard’s Earhart search fails; anyone surprised?” has the details if you’re interested in revisiting another forgettable footnote of the Earhart saga.
During the run-up to the airing of “Expedition Amelia,” the New York Times, another bastion of deceit, may have been the only mainstream outlet to urge everyone to watch the Oct. 20 NatGeo two-hour special, besides NatGeo itself. “Robert Ballard’s expedition to a remote island in the South Pacific found no evidence of the vanished aviator’s plane, but the explorer and his crew haven’t given up,” Julie Cohn wrote in the Times story, “The Amelia Earhart Mystery Stays Down in the Deep.” Of course not, especially when there’s more money to be made and ignorant sheeple to “educate” about the great Amelia Earhart “mystery.”
Finally, on Oct. 20, 2019, the over-hyped and unnecessary National Geographic Channel’s latest two-hour travelogue, “Expedition Amelia,” aired to the nation, bringing another Earhart disinformation operation to a merciful close. For much more, including extensive reviews by William Trail and David Atchason, longtime Earhart aficionados and contributors to this blog, please see my Oct. 22, 2019 post, “NatGeo’s “Expedition Amelia”: Dead on Arrival.”
Marie S. Castro and the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument
As you can see, 2019 was not a good year for the Earhart truth. We must return to early 2018 to find anything positive, with the announcement that appeared in the Feb. 7 Marianas Variety, “Group to build Amelia Earhart monument on Saipan” (no longer available in the Marianas Variety archives that now only go back to 2019). You can refresh yourself on the details by reading my March 2, 2018 post, “Finally, some good Earhart news from Saipan.”
The group is the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. (AEMMI). Its founder and burning light, President Marie S. Castro, 87, is the sole reason for the AEMMI’s existence. Marie is the last living link to Amelia Earhart’s presence and death on Saipan, having known and interviewed eyewitnesses Matilde Arriola and Joaquina Cabrera. For more details or just to catch up, see my April 2, 2018 post, “Marie Castro: Iron link to Saipan’s forgotten history”and “Marie Castro, a treasure chest of Saipan history, Reveals previously unpublished witness accounts,”published May 18.
Some of the most compelling evidence attesting to the presence and deaths of Earhart and Noonan on Saipan can be found in Marie’s moving 2013 autobiography, WITHOUT A PENNY IN MY POCKET: My Bittersweet Memories Before and After World War II. In Without a Penny Marie also describes her family’s terrifying ordeal during the American shelling and bombing of Saipan, which resulted in many tragic civilian casualties, as well as traumatic memories for the survivors.
“After we were liberated by the American Marines in 1944 . . . we were so thankful to the Americans,” Marie wrote in an email. “I was 11 years old then and I thought someday I will do something on my own to thank the Americans.”
She was a professed Catholic nun in Kansas City from 1954 until her resignation in 1971. “It was the time when I really examined what was I meant to be in this world,” Marie wrote. “I wanted to do more. I prayed hard to God to lead me in my decision. I believed it was the right thing to do. I resigned from religious life. I will commit my life in education to thank the American Marines in 1944.”
She remained in Kansas City, teaching in the public schools, retired in 1989 and became involved in other community service organizations, finally returning to Saipan in October 2016. “Considering the 50 years in Kansas City,” Marie wrote in an email, “I felt that I have given a productive life for 50 years. Now I am involved with a challenging undertaking with the Amelia Earhart project, to erect an AE Memorial Monument.”
Unlike most of us, who take on the toughest fights of our lives when we’re young, strong and in our prime, Marie is spending her Golden Years engaged in the most daunting challenge of her already overly-productive existence — erecting a monument to Amelia Earhart on the island where she met her tragic, untimely end.
Most of the opposition to the monument has come from Saipan’s younger generations. Like most Americans under 50, they’re ignorant about their own past and have been subjected to constant historical revisionism and U.S. establishment propaganda about the facts surrounding Amelia Earhart’s presence on the island in the pre-war years. The politics on Saipan are overwhelmingly stacked against the Earhart truth — even worse than in the United States, if that’s even possible — and it appears only a miracle will save the Earhart Memorial Monument project. Unsurprisingly, not a word about Marie or the AEMMI has been uttered by a single American media organization.
“Saipan, a little speck on the map, became the resting place for an American first woman heroine, Amelia Earhart,” Marie wrote in a July 4 email. “We formed an Organization called the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument on Feb. 2017, to place a statue of Amelia Earhart commemorating her presence and tragic end on Saipan in 1937. Finally, President Trump, the 45th president acknowledges the greatest woman of the 20th century [in his recent announcement that he will establish a National Garden” of heroes that will include Earhart]. Mike, we are desperate to finance this project; we need . . . support from the U.S. Maybe this is the time to get some help.”
Here this fine soul displays her penchant for serious understatement. We greatly appreciate the support of the kind few who’ve stepped up to help, but it’s a small fraction of what’s needed to make this monument a reality. The financial problems are one thing, but the politics are equally bad, with Saipan and Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas officials constantly avoiding a final decision about the location of the monument, which is a moot point without the money to pay for it.
As I said, a miracle is needed. Are you listening Up There, Amelia?