RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – A delicate American flag created by a Richmond man and other prisoners during their tortuous time in a Japanese POW camp is now on display at the Virginia War Memorial after sitting in storage for decades.
James Landrum and other prisoners penciled in colored stars and stripes on a prison camp bed sheet as a lasting symbol of freedom.
“They got a bed sheet, got some colored pencils and made a flag," Gerry Landrum, James' son, told CBS 6 News' Greg McQuade.
Landrum spent decades searching for the priceless artifact, which was immortalized in a photograph showing Landrum's father clutching the flag upon the prisoners' release at the end of WWII.
During a 1979 interview, James Landrum recounted how the flag inspired him and his fellow prisoners.
“I think it meant quite a bit. It was a rallying point. It was a mood booster," he said.
Landrum’s son has been carrying the iconic photograph in his wallet since 1966 and always wondered what became of the flag after the war.
“My dad and some of the others looked for the flag, but couldn't find it,” he said.
So the curious son started hunting. And after countless phone calls, letters and emails, Landrum finally discovered the flag in a Navy storage facility in Washington.
“It was unbelievably exciting. It was amazing to see it,” Landrum said. “It is in remarkable shape for being this old. It is like 70 years old.”
For Landrum, the flag will always remind him of his father and those Americans who never made it home.
“If I ever think something gets pretty bad I look at it and say, 'Oh, that is nothing compared to what they went through.'”