Won­der Woman and Amelia Earhart do women proud

The Denver Post - - OP-ED - By Ann Mcfeat­ters

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 Gadot, 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.

Ann Mcfeat­ters is an op-ed colum­nist for Tri­bune News Service. Email her at am­cfeat­ters@ na­tion­al­press.com.

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