U.S. Navy veteran Jim Downing is 102 years old, and the second oldest Pearl Harbor survivor – today he is in Hawaii, commemorating the 74th anniversary of that infamous day.
Downing has lived a life of service, from extinguishing fires during the attacks as Japanese fighter jets and bombs circled around him, to being exposed to 20,000 times the lifetime maximum recommended dosage of radiation due to Hydrogen bomb testing, to dedicating his remaining years to Christian ministry.
If you ask him, the attacks seem like just yesterday and while the day brings back sad memories, what has followed fills him with pride and patriotism. To his fellow patriots he says:
“Weakness invites aggression. Remember Pearl Harbor. Keep America strong.”
From Hawaii News Now:
Even at 102 years old, Jim Downing still remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor as if it were just last week.
Now back in Hawaii for the 74th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, he feels all the memories come rushing back.
“When I think about what happened here on December 7… That’s a sad memory,” said Downing, the second oldest Pearl Harbor survivor.
On that very day, fire hose in hand, he remembered seeing the Japanese fighter planes flying straight overhead, his fellow comrades falling around him.
The overwhelming feelings of surprise, fear and pride at the sight of them can still be felt until this very day.
How best should America honor those lost at Pearl Harbor and protect from a similar attack? Share your thoughts in the comments below!