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Amelia Earhart statue joins the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall

ASMA KHALID, HOST:

If you have visited the U.S. Capitol building here in Washington, you might recall seeing this big, ornate semi-circular room filled with a hundred statues of notable Americans - two from each state, mostly men.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Yesterday, that room got one more woman - a statue of Amelia Earhart. She marks the 11th tribute to a woman. The famed pilot entered the collection as one of Kansas' statues. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke at the unveiling.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY PELOSI: It is my privilege to welcome you to Statuary Hall as we celebrate an American who personifies the daring and determined spirit of our nation.

KHALID: Amelia Earhart was one of the biggest celebrities of her era, known as America's sweetheart in the sky.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: The ladybird's home, and the big town's trying to show her that it thinks a whole lot of Amelia Earhart.

FADEL: In 1932, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. It was one of many firsts for her. Here she is speaking after the flight.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMELIA EARHART: The flight has added nothing to aviation. I hope that the flight has meant something to women in aviation. If it had, I should feel it justified.

FADEL: In 1937, Earhart attempted to circumnavigate the globe. Tragically, her plane went down somewhere over the Pacific and was never discovered. That only added to her legend. Here's Kansas Governor Laura Kelly at yesterday's unveiling.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LAURA KELLY: A woman who showed all of us what it means to reach for the stars.

KHALID: The Earhart statue was made from bronze by artists and brothers George and Mark Lundeen. Mark says they spent seven years trying to capture Earhart's adventurous spirit.

MARK LUNDEEN: For a woman to start flying back in the early 1920s was, you know, not only amazing, but it was almost unheard of back then. And, you know, if you see, she's got just a little smirk on her face.

FADEL: A smirk as though her many accomplishments were no big deal. But we know better.

(SOUNDBITE OF YEARS OF RICE AND SALT'S "AMONGST YOUR EARTHIEST WORDS THE ANGELS STRAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.