One morning in the year 2000, two-year-old James Leininger woke up from a vivid nightmare and started telling his parents about a man named LT.James McCready Huston.
It’s normal for kids to have nightmares, isn’t it? James’ mum and dad, Andrea and Bruce thought so. And one like their son’s wouldn’t have normally worried them.
Only, as far as they both knew, James had never met or heard of this man before. No one had – he was a WW2 fighter pilot who died on the 3rd of March, 1945.
“Just after his second birthday, [James] started having night terrors that he was in a plane that got shot down and crashed into the water, and that he couldn’t get out,” Andrea said on Fox morning television in 2013.
“And his actions would mimic those of somebody who was trying to get out of something, as if he was trapped in the box and trying to kick his way out.”
Then came the drawings. At three, James began drawing pictures of fighter jets and battles, signing them off as ‘James 3’, even though he hadn’t yet learnt to write his name. He could also list off the names of his ‘fellow pilots’ and the name of the ship his jet took off from.
It was only after some research that James’ parents realised their toddler was recalling details of WW2 battles as if they were his own memories. As if he… was there.
Reincarnation, or having a past life, is for many just a myth. For some, it's part of their religion and for others, like James and his family, it's a reality.
Researchers have studied young children’s reports of past-life memories for the last 45 years, with over 2,500 cases having been investigated worldwide, the Children's Report of Past-Life Memories: A Review reports.
More common in countries with cultural beliefs around reincarnation, like India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Lebanon, Thailand and Myanmar, reports of reincarnation have also surfaced in Europe and America.
While it's not uncommon for children to share stories that don't add up or have been concocted in their overactive imaginations, there are cases for which reincarnation is the only explanation that makes any sort of sense.