The last chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association held its final meeting in September, 2019, marking the official end of the historic association. Carnation Chapter 3 in La Mesa, CA hosted its last meeting after the passing of Navy Capt. Jack Evans left the organization without a vice president. The chapter’s president, Stuart Hedley, wasn’t just forced to disband the group. Evans’s passing marked the loss of a close friend, as the two shared a bond unique to Pearl Harbor survivors.
This final meeting marked an important point in United States history. While it’s the end of an era, it also marks the beginning of another, when the memory of Pearl Harbor must be carried on not by those who lived through it, but by friends and family members who heard their stories. Once a means for survivors to find ways to share their stories, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is now a part of the past.
Pearl Harbor Survivors Association
Founded in 1958, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association served as a means for those who lived through the December 7, 1941 attack that launched the United States into World War II to come together and find ways to keep the attack and its aftermath relevant for future generations. At its peak, the association had 18,000 members nationally and 70,000 worldwide.
After membership dipped to approximately 2,700 members across the nation, it was decided that the organization be officially disbanded. While it terminated the corporation, Pearl Harbor survivors continued to attend meetings around the country. As more survivors passed away, individual chapters closed their doors.
“I regret that we have to discontinue our chapter because we do not have sufficient survivors to maintain,” Hedley announced during the final meeting. “As was already stated, we are a dying organization.”
The End of an Era
Though there are no remaining chapters of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, and dwindling numbers of survivors left alive, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial serves as an educational medium for those wanting to learn more about the attack. The memorial is home to many exhibits and other displays about the factors that led to the attack, the morning of the attack itself, and its aftermath. The centerpiece is the USS Arizona Memorial, dedicated to the battleship and the 1,177 men who were killed when she exploded and sank.
As we grow closer to a time when there are no more survivors of December 7, 1941, the importance of preserving their memories becomes even more urgent. Although the last Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapter has disbanded, the stories once shared at their meetings will continue to be passed down to future generations.