The heroine of an inspirational blockbuster and news about the fate of the real-life aviation pioneer hearten us this summer.
In this summer of great political discontent, I find myself fascinated and buoyed by Wonder Woman and Amelia Earhart.
Wonder Woman, as portrayed in a blockbuster movie by the remarkable 32-year-old Israeli actress and mother of two Gal Godot, ignores the men around her during World War I and does what she thinks is right and moral. Who among us has not yearned to jump and soar in slow motion, smiting the wicked and dodging bullets with crossed arms encased in silver bracelets?
In the movie, Wonder Woman, alias Diana Prince, fights against Doctor Poison, an evil German female chemist. She also, of course, fights against men determined to kill millions in war.
Not surprising, perhaps, is that “Wonder Woman” has become controversial. Qatar, Lebanon and Tunisia have banned the movie because Gadot served her compulsory military service during Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon. Good grief, people. It’s a movie about truth, justice and the power of love!
Another development this summer involving a strong woman is the unearthing of a photo that experts think “very likely” shows aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan being held by the Japanese in 1937 after their plane crash-landed in the Marshall Islands. At the time, war clouds were forming that would turn into World War II.
As one of the thousands of elementary school children who wrote essays on Earhart and was frustrated by not knowing what happened to her on her around-the-world flight, I was never satisfied with the explanation that she died in a crash and was never found.
Now there is compelling evidence she was captured by Japanese soldiers and died, along with Noonan, in a prison camp. A photo of what looks to be Noonan and a woman with short hair and pants, most likely taken by a spy, was found in the National Archives.
Marshall Islanders — who even have a stamp in her honor — have for decades believed Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, survived a landing in their waters and was taken away by the Japanese, who at the time controlled the islands and had banned Westerners from the area.
A new History Channel documentary, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” posits that this long-lost photo may well point to the explanation for her disappearance, which has captivated so many for so long. The photo shows a Japanese ship called the Koshu towing something that measures 38 feet in length, the dimension of Earhart’s plane. The documentary’s executive producer, Gary Tarpinian, told NBC News: “We believe that the Koshu took her to Saipan and that she died there under the custody of the Japanese.”
This development undoubtedly will lead to new avenues of research. And while it’s heartbreaking to think that she, like so many, perished in a terrible war, it’s also comforting to have evidence that this famous aviator might not have died in a crash.
One summer. Two vivid examples of strong, awesome women. It is just so heartening.