'We've lost our living history': No Pearl Harbor survivors found for South Florida event – Sun Sentinel
The sailors killed in Japan’s surprise attack on U.S. soil in 1941 will be remembered at an annual ceremony next month in South Florida.
But for the first time, no local Pearl Harbor survivors will be present to share their stories.
One of the last known South Florida survivors who participated in the event, Edward Hammond, 93, of Deerfield Beach, died in September.
When Hammond and other survivors were alive, the audience benefited from seeing “real live witnesses to the event that day, living evidence,” said Alan Starr, chair of Broward Navy Days, the nonprofit that commemorates the attack each year.
This year the ceremony is planned Dec. 3 at a Coast Guard station in Dania Beach.
“We’ve lost our living history,” said Starr, a retired U.S. Navy senior chief petty officer who will lead the event as master of ceremonies. “Now it’s up to us to carry on those traditions.”
The Dec. 7, 1941, attack that pulled the United States into World War II killed 2,403 Americans and wounded more than 1,000.
Nationwide, there are thought to be fewer than 2,000 Pearl Harbor survivors remaining. “It’s a real ballpark guess. It’s so hard to tell,” said Daniel Martinez, the chief historian of the National Park Service, based at the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.
Martinez said he is moved to tears thinking of the men who share their stories in person. Some worked in recovery, pulling the dead out of the water. Some shot at planes.
“The stories you would hear, some you could never repeat, some you would just treasure,” Martinez said. “They