By Tim Binnall
The group behind a controversial proposal to build a massive statue of Amelia Earhart on the island of Saipan have elected a new leader in the hopes of moving the project forward. According to a local media report, author Marie Castro recently became president of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument organization, which aims to construct a twelve-foot-tall depiction of the famed aviatrix. The concept has come under fire from some residents of the island because organizers are hoping to receive some kind of government funding for the project which is expected to cost around $200,000 and since it's never been definitively proven that Earhart wound up on Saipan.
Be that as it may, Castro laid out a bold vision for the future when it comes to the enormous statue, saying "the monument will be revered worldwide as the ultimate shrine to the heroic sacrifices of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan." Beyond just the giant statue, the group's new president suggested that the site would eventually include "a museum, a library, a gift shop and a research institute for worldwide Amelia Earhart researchers to have a place to come and do their work." With that in mind, Castro argues that the monument would be a boon for tourism on Saipan and, as such, is hoping that she can convince residents of the island to get on board with the idea.
As to the matter of whether or not Earhart was ever actually on the island at all, Castro did not mince words when it came to where she stands on the issue. "It is time for Saipan to take ownership of the Earhart-on-Saipan Truth," she declared, "and to spread that truth not just in the region, but worldwide." Castro bases her belief on the testimony of Saipan residents who allegedly Earhart and Noonan on the island following her infamous disappearance while flying around the world. She specifically cites one man who claims to have witnessed Earhart's cremation after the pilot had died of dysentery while in Japanese custody.
Whether Castro's dreams of honoring Earhart on Saipan will ever come to fruition remains to be seen, but one imagines that officials on the island could be enticed by her vision of transforming the region into a tourist hot spot. "Visitors from all over the world with an interest in Amelia Earhart’s story and her 'mysterious' end will come to Saipan," she promised, with the monument acting as "the instantly recognizable logo of Saipan's Earhart tourism industry, its products, and its attractions and services."