PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — In wheelchairs and on walkers, the old veterans came Wednesday to remember the day 70 years ago when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. But FDR's "date that will live in infamy" is becoming a more distant memory.
Fewer and fewer veterans who experienced the attack on Dec. 7, 1941, are alive to mark the anniversaries and most are in their 90s, many prevented by health problems from traveling to Hawaii. One survivors' group said it would disband at year-end because age and infirmity made it too difficult to carry on.
"People had other things that they wanted to do with the remainder of their lives," Pearl Harbor Survivors Association president William Muehleib said. "It was time."
The 2,390 Americans who died in the attacks are not forgotten. Besides Pearl Harbor, there are remembrances elsewhere.
Those who made it to Pearl Harbor were treated to a hero's reception. The 5,000 spectators whistled, shouted and applauded loudly as the 120 or so survivors stood to be recognized, and others asked for autographs and took photos with them.
President Barack Obama hailed the veterans in a statement proclaiming Wednesday "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
"Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II," he said. "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."