February 23, 2018
I never had the honor of personally meeting Lt. Jim Downing, USN, in life, but I knew about him. He was the oldest surviving service member from the attack on Pearl Harbor on that long-ago December day. We lost Lt. Downing last week, at the remarkable age of 104. He was a proud Coloradan and back in 2015, when he was only 101, I played a small role in Lt Downing’s trip to Washington DC, to be the guest of Sen. Michael Bennet at that year’s State of the Union address. Like my own WWII veteran father, when I looked at pictures of Lt. Downing, I saw the face of an old man, making it hard to remember just how young they once were. At five score and ten, in some ways Lt. Downing was no longer the 27-year-old who faced the Japanese attack. But in a more important way, he was a reminder of the Greatest Generation and the sacrifices they made.