Nearly 500 aging World War II veterans gathered in the U.S. state of Hawaii Thursday to mark the 65th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, which triggered the U.S. entrance into World War II.
Former television news anchor Tom Brokaw, who has written several books on the American soldiers fighting that war, praised the veterans attending the ceremony. He said they should be honored not only for their service during the war but for the legacy of their generation afterward.
After the speech, sailors laid wreaths to commemorate the crews of the seven battleships damaged or sunk during the attack. The daring aerial assault on December 7, 1941, nearly crippled the U.S. Pacific fleet and killed some 2,300 servicemen.
The USS Arizona, where more than 1,100 crew members died, still lies on the ocean floor at Pearl Harbor. It is a memorial to what President Franklin Roosevelt described as "a day that will live in infamy."
The survivors of the attack have reunited at Pearl Harbor every five years since 1966. But organizers of this year's event say it will probably be the last of its kind, as the few remaining survivors become too old and frail to travel.
Many of the survivors are in their 80s and 90s now. Historians are gathered at this year's reunion to collect written and oral histories of the attack. The information collected will be part of a new $50 million museum and visitor center.