At 70th anniversary, Pearl Harbor survivors’ group prepares to disband
Under calm skies 70 years to the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, about 120 survivors gathered Wednesday to mark the anniversary with ceremonies that began with a moment of silence for the 2,400 Americans who lost their lives.
And towards the end, it came with an announcement that seemed inevitable: The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will disband on Dec. 31.
Association President William Muehleib cited the age and poor health of remaining members.
“It was time. Some of the requirements became a burden,” Muehleib said after the ceremony.
The association has 2,700 members but there are an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 Pearl Harbor survivors. Local chapters will function as long as they have members and survivors can gather socially, but they will no longer have a formal, national group that organizes an annual trip for the anniversary.
The moment of silence came just before 8 a.m., when the first Japanese planes launched their attack. The survivors were joined by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, military leaders and civilians at a ceremony in Pearl Harbor.
“You the survivors, as well as those who were lost, earned with your blood, with your sacrifice, a legacy you have passed on to those who followed,” Mabus said.
Altogether 3,000 people attended the event at a site overlooking the sunken USS Arizona and the white memorial that straddles the battleship.
In a statement, President Barack Obama hailed veterans of the bombing and proclaimed Wednesday as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”
“Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II. As a nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms,” he said.