Happy Birthday, Emma Morano!

Today is the birthday of an Italian woman named Emma Morano. What makes her special right now is that she is the oldest person alive. What makes her even more special, and for all times to come, is that she is the last person verified to have been alive in the 19th century. She was born on November 29, 1889, and it is her 117th birthday, a birthday that is being celebrated more by the world than by her, and we should celebrate it well, as it is likely to be the last anniversary of a birth that took place in the 1800s.

Simply by virtue of her longevity, her life is remarkable. Spending the first one month of her life in the century that saw the life and death of the Napoleonic Empire and European empires spreading across the world, she remembers the Balkan wars, World War 1, the Great Depression, World War 2, the Space Race, the Vietnam War, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, 9-11, and Barack Obama becoming president of the United States. And she has lived to see Donald Trump be elected. Her personal life is also something to note. After the death of her only child, she left her abusive husband in 1938, being single since then while remaining married to him until he died in 1978.

How Emma got to live so long is of course something of interest. It has to be partly due to genetics, as some of her family members have also lived a very long time. When asked about it, Emma has said that in addition to that, her diet of three eggs a day, two of them raw, maintained since a doctor recommended it to her when she was twenty as treatment for anemia, played a big part. She also said it was because she slept a lot and she always thought positively about the future.

Emma’s birthday, the first since she became the only person alive who was born in the 1800s, is being commemorated in the region she lives in, but I believe it should be commemorated by the whole world. She, who will not be around for very long, is the last link to the 19th century. That warrants her being a world treasure. I believe we should see her life as an inspiration to reflect on how the world has changed since she was born. It is always good to reflect on the past and elderly people connect us to that, which has traditionally made them valuable. This value has decreased in the modern world, which is always focused on the new and the latest. Yet, we should took a moment out of our lives to look back to the past of the world, which can teach us valuable lessons. In addition, we should look towards the future, keeping these lessons in mind. Somewhere, somebody alive right now will become the last person to be born in the 20th century, and by that time, who knows what the world will be like?

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