Sixty-nine years ago today, Americans sitting by their radios had their entertainment interrupted by an announcer with news that stunned and shocked them: Japanese planes had attacked military bases at Pearl Harbor.

Those who were listening very quickly realized their lives were forever altered in that single instant.

the next day, Congress, acting at the behest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who decried “a date which will live in infamy,” had declared war on the Empire of Japan, and Hitler’s Germany would soon stand by its Axis ally and declare war on the United States as well.

The United States has had similar days since, when the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, also stunned and grieved us.

But for most of the lives of the most senior among us, Pearl Harbor Day remained unique, a world-changing event that forced the nation into an ongoing war that spanned the globe and left more than 400,000 Americans – and 60 million people worldwide – as casualties.

As those who remember the attack grow older, some express worry that the nation will forget their experiences and sacrifices. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, meeting today in Honolulu, will vote on disbanding the group because it’s getting too difficult to bring many of the 3,000 remaining members, most of whom are in their 90s, together for reunions.

Considering that the youngest member of the military in Hawaii that day is now older than 80, that’s no surprise.

However, as the day fades from living memory – as all such days inevitably do – it falls to those who remain to honor the memory of those who experienced it and continued on to prevail in the conflict that followed.