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Kansas Delegations Gathers for Unveiling of Amelia Earhart Statue at U.S. Capitol

Judd Weil-News Director


The entire Kansas delegation were present at the statue unveiling of Amelia Earhart during a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol on July 27. Governor Laura Kelly; U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. and Jerry Moran; U.S. Representatives Ron Estes (KS-4), Sharice Davids (KS-3), Jake LaTurner (KS-2), and Tracey Mann (KS-1) all appeared.

After waiting more than 20 years, Amelia Earhart’s statue will replace fellow Atchison native and former U.S. Senator John Ingalls as a part of the renowned collection of statues in the U.S. Capitol, the National Statuary Hall Collection. Amelia Earhart will join President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the U.S.’ 34th President and Abilene, Kan. native, in representing Kansas as one of the Sunflower State’ tribute statues.

The ceremony was held in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Additionally the delegation penned an op-ed for the Topeka Capital Journal about Amelia Earhart ahead of the statue unveiling.

The delegation said in part,

“Amelia flew to new heights and traveled longer distances than ever before, but Atchisonians, Kansans and Americans are honoring Amelia today out of a shared admiration for her spirit. Her fellow Atchison native and statuary predecessor, John Ingalls coined the motto for our state: “Ad Astra per Aspera,” or “To the Stars through Difficulties.” Amelia Earhart personified that motto, pushing against social boundaries set for women and breaking new records in flight not just for a woman but for all aviators. For generations to come her spirit and her likeness in Statuary Hall will inspire not only Kansans, but also visitors from around the world.”

“This statue immortalizing Amelia Earhart will serve as an inspiration to our young people for generations to come, propelling them to dream beyond the limits of their time,” said Governor Kelly. “I want to thank our Congressional leaders and our Kansas delegation for the opportunity to honor one of Kansas’ most iconic figures – a woman who showed all of us what it means to reach for the stars.”

Along with Amelia Earhart, Governor Kelly’s remarks recognized a long legacy of pioneering women in Kansas history, including Susanna Salter, the first woman elected mayor in the United States in 1887; Georgia Neese Gray, who, during the Truman Administration, became the first woman to serve as United States Treasurer; and Lucinda Todd, a civil rights activist and one of the petitioners in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case.

The delegation was joined by Karen Seaberg, founder and president of the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation and Jacque Pregont, Foundation board member and chair of the Amelia Earhart Statuary Hall Selection Committee.

“As a pioneering force in aviation and for gender equality, Amelia Earhart captivated the world with her extraordinary bravery, unwavering perseverance and daring determination to defy the odds and pursue her dream of flight,” said Karen Seaberg, founder and president of the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation. “Her statue now stands at the U.S. Capitol as an inspiring symbol to encourage others — especially women and girls — to boldly pursue their own dreams.”

“It’s been a great honor to lead this effort to bring Amelia Earhart’s statue to the Capitol during this 90th anniversary year since she made history as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean,” said Jacque Pregont, Foundation board member and chair of the Amelia Earhart Statuary Hall Selection Committee. “This year also marks 125 years since Amelia was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kan. — where her dream of flight began.”

“Amelia Earhart was a true Kansas pioneer who exemplifies our state motto: Ad Astra Per Aspera – To The Stars with Difficulty. It is fitting that Earhart replaces John James Ingalls statue in our Nation’s capital – who in 1861 as Secretary of the state senate added this motto to the Kansas state seal. Ingalls’ vision for Kansas comes to fruition in Amelia Earhart’s courageous spirit,” said Senator Marshall. “Today, Kansas is known as the Air Capitol of the World and the placement of the Earhart Statue in our nation’s capital furthers our commitment to that industry. As the birthplace of Earhart, we commend the city of Atchison and its leaders who worked diligently to make this statue possible.”

“Today, we have a new Kansan to represent our state in the U.S. Capitol – someone who is recognized for her historic renown as an aviator, but also someone who broke barriers, created opportunities for others and captivated the attention of the world with her adventurous spirit – Kansas’ Amelia Earhart,” said Senator Moran. “With Dwight D. Eisenhower and now Amelia Earhart, Kansas officially has two of the most iconic and recognizable American heroes representing any state in the United States Capitol. Between two and three million people from around the world visit the U.S. Capitol every year. It is my hope that this statue of Amelia Earhart will encourage other girls and boys from small towns across the country to dream big and work hard to achieve their dreams. And for those who can’t travel to the U.S. Capitol, they can visit the Amelia Earhart Hanger Museum in Atchison where a replica statue will be on display of a determined young woman with short cut hair, a curious smile, a bomber hat in hand and a sunflower on her belt buckle.”

“As the representative from south central Kansas and the Air Capital of the World, it’s incredibly gratifying to see this exceptional Kansan honored in the United States Capitol, and it’s a reminder of our state’s storied history in aviation and flight. Amelia’s commitment to aviation, and particularly women in aviation, represents the passion that pushed flight designers and engineers higher and higher in the early days of aircraft production, and it’s still alive today. Amelia’s statue embodies the feelings of so many Kansans who sought our flat plains and wide-open skies, but also stayed because of our spirit of adventure and desire to keep pushing the limits. And just like Amelia never gave up as she broke records and barriers, we know it’s been a journey getting her statue here to Washington, D.C.,” said Representative Estes.

“Amelia Earhart had the rare gift of being able to see, without limitation, what a better future for herself and others could look like,” said Representative Davids. “While Kansans have long thought of Amelia as our hero, I cannot wait for the rest of the world to be reminded of her sense of courage, duty, and imagination as they walk the halls of our Capitol building. As Amelia finally lands in DC, I want to extend a huge thank you to all involved for making this day possible.”

“Kansans are trailblazers by nature, and Amelia Earhart’s revolutionary story has captured the hearts of both Kansans and Americans across the United States,” said Representative Mann. “Amelia was a self-starter, a pioneer, and a hero. She built her own runway for her life, and in doing so, she embodied the Kansas spirit. Millions of Kansans across many different industries and pursuits are following in her pioneering footsteps today. It is an honor to finally bring Amelia to the Capitol to represent Kansas, and to ensure that her story will inspire generations of Americans to come.”

Born and raised in Atchison, Kan., Earhart received her pilot license in 1923 and subsequently championed the advancement of not just women in aviation, but women’s rights all together. Her merits include helping form the Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots, as well as serving as their president.

Amelia Earhaart was declared lost at sea when she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean with her navigator, Fred Noonan, in July 2, 1937. She was officially declared dead Jan. 5, 1939

Her iconic image is a champion of women’s activism everywhere, with her mark in history constantly celebrated and officially recognized with her statue in the U.S. Capitol.

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