Author James Bradley will be the main attraction for a weekend of fundraising events for Spokane’s proposed Armed Forces & Aerospace Museum – and he has exceptionally fine credentials for that job.
• He’s the author of “Flags of Our Fathers,” about the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, one of whom was Bradley’s father. The book was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and made into an acclaimed Clint Eastwood film.
• He’s the author of “Flyboys,” about American aviators in all services in World War II, and in particular, about eight young flyboys shot down near Iwo Jima.
• He’s the author of “The Imperial Cruise,” about Theodore Roosevelt’s history-making diplomatic mission to Japan, the Philippines, China and Korea – which shaped America’s Pacific policies to this day. The New York Times called Bradley’s revelations about Roosevelt “incendiary.”
“It all wraps in to what our goal for the museum is – to honor veterans of all services as well as to provide safe and innovative educational opportunities for our young people,” said Tobby Hatley, a member of the museum’s board.
The weekend’s biggest event will be a Saturday evening reception at the Davenport Hotel, featuring a keynote talk by Bradley.
“I’ll be talking about my journey through history,” Bradley said by phone from his New York home. “My dad raised the flag on Iwo Jima and that brought me to the Pacific. I call myself a Pacific historian. … I went to school in Japan in 1974, so I have been flying around and studying the Pacific for most of my life.”
Bradley is a historian of war, yet his journey has also made him a powerful advocate of peace through cultural understanding. His James Bradley Peace Foundation is dedicated to sending American high school students to China and Japan.
The museum is still in the concept stage. The idea arose in 1996 when the Fairchild Heritage Museum closed and a drive began to build a new museum to house not only the Fairchild collection but also military objects dating back to Fort George Wright and earlier.
The collection is in storage at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, and the Armed Forces and Aerospace Museum Society has obtained property west of Spokane to build a modern facility.
“Our initial goal is $4 million, and we believe we have in excess of $1 million in pledges,” Hatley said. “That’s for the initial stage. Overall we have a $14 million objective in several phases.”
Bradley said his experience with the book “Flyboys” gave him a deep appreciation for the American flying forces of World War II.
“Flyboys of all different services brought Japan to its knees without an invasion, the first time that has ever happened in war history,” said Bradley.