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Our View: Pearl Harbor memories need to be kept alive
Every year, there are fewer.
Fewer people who can remember where they were 71 years ago today.
Fewer who can pass on firsthand stories of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 2,403 Americans and wounded 1,178 others.
Two memorials in Gridley today will honor those who died in the surprise attack by Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes on the US naval base in Hawaii.
One of the worries that comes with the loss of members of the generation that experienced Pearl Harbor is that we as a country and culture forget the horror of the attack, as well as the shock and the terrible inspiration to overcome.
As survivor Arthur Wells, 90, told the Appeal-Democrat this week, "age is starting to get us. There are not many of us left."
Last year, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association estimated that only 7,000 to 8,000 survivors are still living. It was difficult to find a newer estimate because dwindling numbers caused the association to disband.
In Yuba-Sutter, we know of two survivors who have been profiled in the Appeal-Democrat during the years — Joe Langdell and Art Rodda.
Langdell was an officer on the USS Arizona, and Rodda, a retired seaman 2nd class, served on the USS Nevada.
Someday, those who remember where they were that day and those who survived it will be gone. And they will take their memories with them.
The question is, will the rest of us keep those memories and lessons alive? Will the ceremonies and services continue each Dec. 7 to honor those who died?
Even at last year's ceremony in Gridley, survivors were lamenting that because of their dwindling numbers, it would be the last.
Wells this week repeated that this year's ceremony "is probably our last one."
It would be a shame if Wells' prediction comes true.
There is the fact that in this volatile world we must remember to be ever vigilant and on our guard for future attacks.
As the saying goes, "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."
But we also owe it those who died to remember them as human beings who gave their lives for this country. And we need to remember the stories of those who survived to make the Pearl Harbor attack more than just a date in a history book.
We need to remember — so as not to forget.
Today's commentary was written by City Editor Eric Vodden, for the Appeal-Democrat editorial board.