The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will commemorate their last Pearl Harbor anniversary today, the group sadly lacks the number of able-bodied members to keep on going. Citing the tolls of age and their dwindling numbers, the group voted unanimously to disband at the end of this month. “We had no choice,” William H. Eckel, one-time director of the Fourth Division of the survivors’ association, told The New York Times. “Wives and family members have been trying to keep it operating, but they just can’t do it. People are winding up in nursing homes and intensive care places.” What Eckel says makes sense. "The ranks of the survivors are thinning fast. Of the 60,000 military personnel on the island on Dec. 7, 1941, there are only about 2,000 remaining — down from an estimated 3,000 just a year ago," explains the Fond Du Lac Reporter. And The New York Times notes that the organization, which started in 1958 with 28,000 members, has seen its numbers drop to around 2,700, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s. A number of news outlets have rolled out personal vignettes and stories from local heroes to mark today, which is 70th anniversary of the tragedy. And officials of the Survivors Association have encouraged local chapters to keep on organizing despite the disbandment. But the chalking up the death of this organization to the sad facts of reality, doesn't really provide any solace or comfort in knowing that America is slowly and surely losing its only human connections to Pearl Harbor. A Pearl Harbor survivor put it best, when he shared a poignant anecdote with The New York Times about his last visit to a children's classroom, "And one of these little girls said, ‘Pearl Harbor? Who is she?’" Hopefully, his answer still matters.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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