Call him unsentimental, but 89-year-old Theodore Franklin Roosevelt doesn’t embellish his memories of that fateful day Dec. 7, 1941 with romantic imagery.
The 52-year resident of Glendora tells his story of survival as a 17-year-old sailor at Pearl Harbor every year on Pearl Harbor Day.
But each year as he gets older, Roosevelt said he’s become more realistic – someday, he said the country will forget about the Japanese attacks that killed nearly 2,500 people on the U.S. naval base in Hawaii. Time will only destine the event to oblivion.
Roosevelt said he has mourned the loss of friends who drowned aboard their sunken ship’s decks, but after 70 years, Roosevelt said he has moved on.
And someday, this country will move on, too, he said.
As more survivors pass on, Roosevelt said the memory of the day will perish with them.
The Navy estimates that there are 3,000 Pearl Harbor survivors still alive, although that number is rapidly dwindling.
Roosevelt receives a newsletter from the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association listing the names of survivors who have passed away each month.
“The list gets bigger and bigger every month,” said Roosevelt.
The Survivors Association hosted its last memorial today at Pearl Harbor, citing the lack of manpower left to continue coordinating Pearl Harbor memorials.
Groups across the nation such as the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor have vowed to keep the legacy of the men and women who died 70 years ago alive.
Roosevelt said he’s ambivalent about the Pearl Harbor legacy. To him, there were other major battles fought. After Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt fought at Midway and was part of the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces.
“I was just doing my job,” said Roosevelt. “I think the men who were there would tell you the same.”