Charles Lindbergh

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Life — a culmination of the past, an awareness of the present, an indication of a future beyond knowledge, the quality that gives a touch of divinity to matter.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh II (4 February 190226 August 1974) was an American aviator and writer who rose to fame after he piloted the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. An isolationist prior to the US entry into World War II, and in later years an environmental activist, he was the husband of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Quotes[edit]

Our ideals, laws and customs should be based on the proposition that each generation, in turn, becomes the custodian rather than the absolute owner of our resources and each generation has the obligation to pass this inheritance on to the future.
Now, all that I feared would happen has happened. We are at war all over the world, and we are unprepared for it from either a spiritual or a material standpoint...
Here was a place where men and life and death had reached the lowest form of degradation. How could any reward in national progress even faintly justify the establishment and operation of such a place?
It is not the willingness to kill on the part of our soldiers which most concerns me. That is an inherent part of war. It is our lack of respect for even the admirable characteristics of our enemy... We hold his examples of atrocity screamingly to the heavens while we cover up our own and condone them as just retribution for his acts.
I have seen the science I worshiped, and the aircraft I loved, destroying the civilization I expected them to serve.
If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.
In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.
Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance.
  • The readiness to blame a dead pilot for an accident is nauseating, but it has been the tendency ever since I can remember. What pilot has not been in positions where he was in danger and where perfect judgment would have advised against going? But when a man is caught in such a position he is judged only by his error and seldom given credit for the times he has extricated himself from worse situations. Worst of all, blame is heaped upon him by other pilots, all of whom have been in parallel situations themselves, but without being caught in them. If one took no chances, one would not fly at all. Safety lies in the judgment of the chances one takes. That judgment, in turn, must rest upon one's outlook on life. Any coward can sit in his home and criticize a pilot for flying into a mountain in fog. But I would rather, by far, die on a mountainside than in bed. Why should we look for his errors when a brave man dies? Unless we can learn from his experience, there is no need to look for weakness. Rather, we should admire the courage and spirit in his life. What kind of man would live where there is no daring? And is life so dear that we should blame men for dying in adventure? Is there a better way to die?
    • Journal entry (26 August 1938); later published in The Wartime Journals (1970)
  • Shall we now give up the independence we have won, and crusade abroad in a utopian attempt to force our ideas on the rest of the world; or shall we use air power, and the other advances of modern warfare, to guard and strengthen the independence of our nation?
    • A speech on “Air Power” (29 August 1941)
  • The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt Administration.Instead of agitating for war, Jews in this country should be opposing it in every way, for they will be the first to feel its consequences. Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.
    • Speech in Des Moines, Iowa lobbying for American isolationism (11 September 1941)
  • Now, all that I feared would happen has happened. We are at war all over the world, and we are unprepared for it from either a spiritual or a material standpoint. Fortunately, in spite of all that has been said, the oceans are still difficult to cross; and we have the time to adjust and prepare... We can, of course, be raided; but unless we let ourselves go completely to pieces internally, we cannot be invaded successfully.
    But this is only one part of the picture. We are in a war which requires us to attack if we are to win it. We must attack in Asia and in Europe, in fact, all over the world. That means raising and equipping an army of many millions and building shipping, which we have not now got. And after that, if we are to carry through our present war aims, it probably means the bloodiest and most devastating war of all history.
    • Journal entry (11 December 1941); later published in The Wartime Journals (1970)
  • We talk about spreading democracy and freedom all over the world, but they are to us words rather than conditions. We haven't even got them here in America, and the farther we get into this war the farther we get away from democracy and freedom. Where is it leading us to, and when will it end? The war might stop this winter, but that is improbable. It may go on for fifty years or more. That also is improbable. The elements are too conflicting and confused to form any accurate judgment of its length. There may be a series of wars, one after another, going on indefinitely.
    Possibly the world will come to its senses sooner than I expect. But, as I have often said, the environment of human life has changed more rapidly and more extensively in recent years than it has ever changed before. When environment changes, there must be a corresponding change in life. That change must be so great that it is not likely to be completed in a decade or in a generation.
    • Journal entry (11 December 1941); later published in The Wartime Journals (1970)
  • Here was a place where men and life and death had reached the lowest form of degradation. How could any reward in national progress even faintly justify the establishment and operation of such a place?
  • The intense artillery fire has stripped the trees of leaves and branches so that the outline of the coral ridge itself can be seen silhouetted against the sky. Since I have been on Owi Island, at irregular intervals through the night and day, the sound of our artillery bombarding this Japanese stronghold has floated in across the water. This afternoon, I stood on the cliff outside our quarters (not daring to sit on the ground because of the danger of typhus) and watched the shells bursting on the ridge. For weeks that handful of Japanese soldiers, variously estimated at between 250 and 700 men, has been holding out against overwhelming odds and the heaviest bombardment our well-supplied guns can give them.
    If positions were reversed and our troops held out so courageously and well, their defense would be recorded as one of the most glorious examples of tenacity, bravery, and sacrifice in the history of our nation. But, sitting in the security and relative luxury of our quarters, I listen to American Army officers refer to these Japanese soldiers as "yellow sons of bitches." Their desire is to exterminate the Jap ruthlessly, even cruelly. I have not heard a word of respect or compassion spoken of our enemy since I came here.
    It is not the willingness to kill on the part of our soldiers which most concerns me. That is an inherent part of war. It is our lack of respect for even the admirable characteristics of our enemy — for courage, for suffering, for death, for his willingness to die for his beliefs, for his companies and squadrons which go forth, one after another, to annihilation against our superior training and equipment. What is courage for us is fanaticism for him. We hold his examples of atrocity screamingly to the heavens while we cover up our own and condone them as just retribution for his acts.
    • Journal entry (21 July 1944); later published in The Wartime Journals (1970)
  • What the German has done to the Jew in Europe, we are doing to the Jap in the Pacific.
    • Journal entry (21 July 1944)
  • It was a love of the air and sky and flying, the lure of adventure, the appreciation of beauty. It lay beyond the descriptive words of men — where immortality is touched through danger, where life meets death on equal plane; where man is more than man, and existence both supreme and valueless at the same time.
    • Thoughts on his first parachute jump in The Spirit of St Louis (1953)
  • Life — a culmination of the past, an awareness of the present, an indication of a future beyond knowledge, the quality that gives a touch of divinity to matter.
    • "Is Civilization Progress?" in Reader's Digest (July 1964)
  • If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.
    • "Is Civilization Progress?" in Reader's Digest (July 1964)
  • I have seen the science I worshiped, and the aircraft I loved, destroying the civilization I expected them to serve.
    • Of Flight and Life (1948)
  • In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.
    • "The Wisdom of Wilderness" LIFE magazine, (22 December 1967)
  • Our ideals, laws and customs should be based on the proposition that each generation, in turn, becomes the custodian rather than the absolute owner of our resources and each generation has the obligation to pass this inheritance on to the future.
    • New York Times Magazine (23 May 1971)
  • Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values... God made life simple. It is man who complicates it.
    • As quoted in Reader's Digest (July 1972)
  • I realized that the future of aviation, to which I had devoted so much of my life, depended less on the perfection of aircraft than on preserving the epoch-evolved environment of life, and that this was true of all technological progress.
    • Forword to The Gentle Tasady : A Stone Age People in the Philippine Rain Forest (1975) by John Nance, a book on the Tasaday of Mindanao (7 April 1974)
  • I owned the world that hour as I rode over it... free of the earth, free of the mountains, free of the clouds, but how inseparably I was bound to them.
    • On flying over the Rocky Mountains, as quoted in Lindbergh (1978) by Leonard Mosley
  • Living in dreams of yesterday, we find ourselves still dreaming of impossible future conquest...
  • Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.
    • As quoted in Lindbergh (1998) by A. Scott Berg, p. 510
  • Is he alone who has courage on his right hand and faith on his left hand?
    • As quoted in 1927 (2000) by Robert P. Fitton
  • What kind of man would live where there is no danger? I don't believe in taking foolish chances. But nothing can be accomplished by not taking a chance at all.
    • As quoted in Lindbergh: Flight's Enigmatic Hero (2002) by Von Hardesty
  • Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance.
    • As quoted in Lindbergh: Flight's Enigmatic Hero (2002) by Von Hardesty

Aviation, Geography, and Race (1939)[edit]

Air power is new to all our countries. It brings advantages to some and weakens others; it calls for readjustment everywhere.
The forces of Hannibal, Drake and Napoleon moved at best with the horses' gallop or the speed of wind on sail. Now, aviation brings a new concept of time and distance to the affairs of men.
Reader's Digest (November 1939), pp. 64-67
  • Aviation has struck a delicately balanced world, a world where stability was already giving way to the pressure of new dynamic forces, a world dominated by a mechanical, materialist, Western European civilization.
  • Aviation seems almost a gift from heaven to those Western nations who were already the leaders of their era, strengthening their leadership, their confidence, their dominance over other peoples. It is a tool specially shaped for Western hands, a scientific art which others only copy in a mediocre fashion; another barrier between the teeming millions of Asia and the Grecian inheritance of Europe — one of those priceless possessions which permit the White race to live at all in a pressing sea of Yellow, Black, and Brown.
  • A great industrial nation may conquer the world in the span of a single life, but its Achilles' heel is time. Its children, what of them? The second and third generations, of what numbers and stuff will they be? How long can men thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of coal and of oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty, the mineral-like quality of life. This is our modern danger — one of the waxen wings of flight. It may cause our civilization to fall unless we act quickly to counteract it, unless we realize that human character is more important than efficiency, that education consists of more than the mere accumulation of knowledge.
  • Air power is new to all our countries. It brings advantages to some and weakens others; it calls for readjustment everywhere.
    If only there were some way to measure the changing character of men, some yardstick to reapportion influence among the nations, some way to demonstrate in peace the strength of arms in war. But with all of its dimensions, its clocks, and weights, and figures, science fails us when we ask a measure for the rights of men. They cannot be judged by numbers, by distance, weight, or time; or by counting heads without a thought of what may lie within. Those intangible qualities of character, such as courage, faith, and skill, evade all systems, slip through the bars of every cage. They can be recognized, but not measured.
  • The forces of Hannibal, Drake and Napoleon moved at best with the horses' gallop or the speed of wind on sail. Now, aviation brings a new concept of time and distance to the affairs of men. It demands adaptability to change, places a premium on quickness of thought and speed of action.
    Military strength has become more dynamic and less tangible. A new alignment of power has taken place, and there is no adequate peacetime measure for its effect on the influence of nations. There seems no way to agree on the rights it brings to some and takes from others.
  • Our civilization depends on peace among Western nations, and therefore on united strength, for Peace is a virgin who dare not show her face without Strength, her father, for protection. We can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races.
    We need peace to let our best men live to work out those more subtle, but equally dangerous, problems brought by this new environment in which we dwell, to give us time to turn this materialistic trend, to stop prostrating ourselves before this modern idol of mechanical efficiency, to find means of combining freedom, spirit, and beauty with industrial life — a peace which will bring character, strength, and security back to Western peoples.

Autobiography of Values (1978)[edit]

In some future incarnation from our life stream, we may even understand the reason for our existence in forms of earthly life.
After my death, the molecules of my being will return to the earth and sky. They came from the stars. I am of the stars.
  • In some future incarnation from our life stream, we may even understand the reason for our existence in forms of earthly life. The growing knowledge of science does not refute man's intuition of the mystical. Whether outwardly or inwardly, whether in space or in time, the farther we penetrate the unknown, the vaster and more marvelous it becomes. Only in the twentieth century do we realize that space is not empty, that it is packed with energy; it may be existence's source. Then, if space has produced existence and the form of man, can we deduce from it a form for God?
  • I know myself as mortal, but this raises the question: "What is I?" Am I an individual, or am I an evolving life stream composed of countless selves? … As one identity, I was born in AD 1902. But as AD twentieth-century man, I am billions of years old. The life I consider as myself has existed though past eons with unbroken continuity. Individuals are custodians of the life stream — temporal manifestations of far greater being, forming from and returning to their essence like so many dreams. … I recall standing on the edge of a deep valley in the Hawaiian island of Maui, thinking that the life stream is like a mountain river — springing from hidden sources, born out of the earth, touched by stars, merging, blending, evolving in the shape momentarily seen. It is molecules probing through time, found smooth-flowing, adjusted to shaped and shaping banks, roiled by rocks and tree trunks — composed again. Now it ends, apparently, at a lava brink, a precipitous fall.
    Near the fall's brink, I saw death as death cannot be seen. I stared at the very end of life, and at life that forms beyond, at the fact of immortality. Dark water bent, broke, disintegrated, transformed to apparition — a tall, stately ghost soul emerged from body, and the finite individuality of the whole becomes the infinite individuality of particles. Mist drifted, disappeared in air, a vanishing of spirit. Far below in the valley, I saw another river, reincarnated from the first, its particles reorganized to form a second body. It carried the same name. It was similar in appearance. It also ended at a lava brink. Flow followed fall, and fall followed flow as I descended the mountainside. The river was mortal and immortal as life, as becoming.
  • I grow aware of various forms of man and of myself. I am form and I am formless, I am life and I am matter, mortal and immortal. I am one and many — myself and humanity in flux. I extend a multiple of ways in experience in space. I am myself now, lying on my back in the jungle grass, passing through the ether between satellites and stars. My aging body transmits an ageless life stream. Molecular and atomic replacement change life's composition. Molecules take part in structure and in training, countless trillions of them. After my death, the molecules of my being will return to the earth and sky. They came from the stars. I am of the stars.

Quotes about Lindbergh[edit]

A friend of the first man to fly an airplane, Lindbergh lived long enough in a fast-moving world to befriend the first man to walk on the moon. ~ A.Scott Berg
Charles is life itself — pure life, force, like sunlight — and it is for this that I married him and this that holds me to him — caring always, caring desperately what happens to him and whatever he happens to be involved in. ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • Lindbergh's arrival in Paris became the defining moment of his life, that event on which all his future actions hinged — as though they were but a predestined series of equal but opposite reactions, fraught with irony... In the spring of 1927, Lindbergh had been too consumed by what he called "the single objective of landing my plane at Paris" to have considered its aftermath. "To plan beyond that had seemed an act of arrogance I could not afford," he would later write. Even if he had thought farther ahead, however, he could never have predicted the unprecedented global response to his arrival.
    By that year, radio, telephones, radiographs, and the Bartlane Cable Process could transmit images and voices around the world within seconds. What was more, motion pictures had just mastered the synchronization of sound, allowing dramatic moments to be preserved in all their glory and distributed worldwide. For the first time all of civilization could share as one the sights and sounds of an event — almost instantaneously and simultaneously. And in this unusually good-looking, young aviator — of apparently impeccable character — the new technology found its first superstar.
    The reception in Paris was only a harbinger of the unprecedented worship people would pay Lindbergh for years. Without either belittling or aggrandizing the importance of his flight, he considered it part of the continuum of human endeavor, and that he was, after all, only a man. The public saw more than that... Universally admired, Charles Lindbergh became the most celebrated living person ever to walk the earth.
  • As the first American airman to exhibit "the right stuff," Lindbergh inspired his country's first astronauts by sheer example. But more than that, he was — unknown to the public — the man most responsible for securing the funding that underwrote the research of Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the inventor of the modern rocket. A friend of the first man to fly an airplane, Lindbergh lived long enough in a fast-moving world to befriend the first man to walk on the moon.
    • A. Scott Berg in Lindbergh (1998)
  • Lindbergh believed all the elements of the earth and heavens are connected, through space and time. The configurations of molecules in each moment help create the next. Thus he considered his defining moment just another step in the development of aviation and exploration — a summit built on all those that preceded it and a springboard to all those that would follow. Only by looking back, Lindbergh believed, could mankind move forward. "In some future incarnation from our life stream," he wrote in later years, "we may understand the reason for our existence in forms of earthly life."
    • A. Scott Berg in Lindbergh (1998)
  • Charles is life itself — pure life, force, like sunlight — and it is for this that I married him and this that holds me to him — caring always, caring desperately what happens to him and whatever he happens to be involved in.
  • Charles was a stubborn Swede, you know, and he himself never felt the need to explain his feelings about where he stood and about past statements. But I feel free now to elaborate on his actual attitudes. He never wanted to be regarded as a hero or leader, and he never had political ambitions. His prewar isolationist speeches were given in all sincerity for what he thought was the good of the country and the world. ... He was accused of being anti-Semetic, but in the 45 years I lived with him I never heard him make a remark against the Jews, not a crack or joke, and neither did any of our children.
  • The people of England are about finished with him. Americans are beginning to feel the same way, and the halo of hero worship around Lindbergh's head is getting pretty well tarnished.
    • New Jersey Attorney General David P. Wilentz (December 1936), quoted in Radio and the Jews: The Untold Story of How Radio Influenced the Image of Jews (2007) by David S. Siegel and Susan Siegel, p. 45

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