The following was written and recorded by James C. Roberts, President and Founder of The American Veterans Center.
Each recording costs about $750 to record and they are a vital part of the historical record. God bless all these amazing people who saved our country from tyranny 76 years ago. The organization is hoping to put a documentary together to remember these gallant men when the world was at war. They could use your help.
December 7, 1941
At 7:48am local time, a wave of Imperial Japanese fighters and bombers appeared in the skies above the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.
At that moment, the United States was pulled into the Second World War. You know of the infamous attack, but you probably don’t know Lieutenant Jim Downing. At 104 years young, he is the U.S. military’s second-oldest Pearl Harbor survivor. He served on the battleship USS West Virginia when the attacks commenced, and witnessed the devastation – and heroism among his comrades – that day.
A few months ago, the American Veterans Center welcomed Lt. Downing into our studios in Arlington, Virginia to film his story to ensure his legacy is shared with Americans long after he is gone.
Hours after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Lt. Downing memorized the dog tags of as dozens of sailors and later wrote letters to the families of the fallen. He told them that their loved ones did not die in vain and that the nation would remember their sacrifice. Nearly 76 years later, we still remember.
Take a moment today, as we approach the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and listen to his story. Watch the American Veterans Center’s oral history featuring Pearl Harbor survivor Lt. Jim Downing.
Lt. Downing can recall that terrible day 76 years ago like it was yesterday. It’s astonishing how vividly he can remember the details, and how he was able to provide closure for so many families.
In fact, decades later Lt. Downing met the Commander of the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor. This former Admiral, Mitsuo Fuchida, became a Christian missionary and visited the headquarters of an international Christian organization in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Think about this for a moment. Lt. Downing lost dozens of his friends and thousands of his brothers in arms. And yet, he was able to do more than forgive, he was able to work with the former Japanese Admiral to try to create a better world. This is why we fought World War II, and why Americans stand ready to serve today – to create a better world.
Words do not describe what a noble and virtuous person Lt. Downing is. I only wish that with so much division in our country more people would look to Lt. Downing as a hero and an inspiration.
There are other veterans of our Greatest Generation that still survive who are like Lt. Downing. Like him, I want to ensure their legacy is never forgotten.