I was very saddened to learn of Carrie Fisher's death at the too-young age of 60 today.
Her passing left me reflecting on the role I and many know her best at: Princess Leia, the determined and tough young woman in the Star Wars movies. I learned today she was only 19 when she took on the role in the first film.
Leia was someone to admire. She stood toe to toe with Vader himself and underwent torture rather than reveal the Rebel's base. She suffered tremendous loss when her home planet was destroyed, yet it didn't stop her from delivering the Death Star plans to her people. She could shoot a blaster with the best of them and instead of standing back and letting Luke and Han handle everything she took matters into her own hands and played a role in their rescue.
Throughout the films she continued to deal with hardship but stayed determined to bring the Empire down. She was one of those in charge at Hoth, only leaving the base when there was no more to be done. With her help, Luke was rescued in Cloud City and Han retrieved from Jabba's palace. It was Leia that dealt the fatal blow to Jabba himself. And it was Leia who first encountered and befriended the Ewoks who played a role in taking down the Empire in a massive battle.
The Leia we see in the movie The Force Awakens has been tempered with more sorrow, but even here she is busy making sure the hard-won Republic that's been created can endure. She's a general now, and still very involved in things. (I could say much more, but don't want to give spoilers)
Leia was not your typical princess, waiting around for someone to save her. While she did get some help from time to time, she demonstrated an ability to be part of the solution, rather than being passive. She was strong, capable, and able to hold her own - definitely a woman to hold up as an example.
Sadly, her story now has an endpoint with Carrie Fisher's death. But I am grateful to the actress for bringing her to life for us. Thank you, Carrie and all who played a part in Leia's creation. She will be missed.