Saturday was the 72nd anniversary of the surprise attack that plunged the United States into World War II, and commemoration ceremonies around the country featured dwindling groups of Pearl Harbor veterans.
Surviving vets are well into their 80s and 90s and some expressed concern the passage of time would lead to less interest in Pearl Harbor and its consequences.
"There is not many of us left to think about it," former Louisiana state Sen. Jackson Davis told the (Shreveport, La.) Times.
Davis compared Pearl Harbor to epic battles of the past, such as Gettysburg, which seemed to lose their place in public perception as younger generations aged.
Clemson University history Professor Richard Saunders told USA Today a number of his students come into class with only a very basic understanding of World War II.
"Now, unfortunately, is a time in which, with so many so-called newer national tragedies, it might seem as though Dec. 7, 1941, is one such tragedy that is slowly being forgotten," he said.
Some historians point out that public interest in pivotal military moments actually increased as their veterans died out.
"Now it's going to be the place of the professional historians and good amateur historians to come in and do for World War II veterans what was done in the late 1950s and since to the Civil War," Shreveport historian Gary Joiner told the Times. "The parades may stop, but the assessment will continue."
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