Wisdom from Margaret Hastings

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Margaret Hastings went on a sightseeing flight with 23 other soldiers and members of the Women’s Army Corps in the isolated mountains of New Guinea.

They wanted to catch a glimpse of a beautiful valley that the Americans referred to as Shangri-La and the primitive people who lived there.

When their plane crashed, Margaret and two soldiers survived.

In his book Lost in Shangri-La—A True Story of Survival, Adventure and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II, Mitchell  Zuckoff tells how Margaret’s legs and feet were cut and burned in the crash. Soon, her feet and part of her hand turned gangrenous. “Suddenly, I was in terror, lest I lose my legs,” she wrote in her diary.

Margaret survived with both legs and both feet intact, but only after she hiked through the jungle and encountered natives who had never seen a white man or woman.

Years later, she talked about the lesson she learned in New Guinea. “Fear is something I don’t think you experience unless you have a choice,” she said. “If you have a choice, then you’re liable to be afraid. But without a choice, what is there to be afraid of? You just go along doing what has to be done.”

The lesson that Margaret teaches us is that ordinary people can act with great courage and that it often takes courage to do “what has to be done.”

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One Response to “Wisdom from Margaret Hastings”

  1. Mary Hunter October 4, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    Wow! Sounds like quite an adventure.


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