Group Aims to Preserve Memory of Dec. 7, 1941; the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Organization Has Existed since 1965

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

Al Bowman of Jacksonville gets all torn up when he remembers Pearl Harbor. Recalling the bombs, explosions, choking smoke, death and heroism almost always brings him to tears.

But he wasn't there when the Japanese attacked the slumbering U.S. fleet anchored in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, killing about 2,400 Americans and thrusting America into World War II.

So why the teary eyes sometimes?

"I'm an emotional person," the Arlington man said.

That and he is an active member of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, whose members are dedicated to ensuring that this day in December remains - as President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared at the time - "a date which will live in infamy ... "

"It gave us the biggest wake-up call of the last century that we can be attacked by a smaller country," said Bowman, 70. "And look at what happened on 9/11."

Although Sons and Daughters has existed since 1965, Bowman and other members of the organization say it is picking up steam as its members enter retirement age and have more time to devote to the cause.

The nonprofit organization has about 2,700 active members nationally, many of whom have been spurred to greater involvement by the death of a parent who survived the sneak attack, said Judy McAlhany, director of the organization's District Six, which covers Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.

Grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews of survivors are eligible to join the group, said McAlhany, who lives near Augusta, Ga.

As more and more survivors age and die, she said, Sons and Daughters is planning and hosting survivor reunions, giving presentations in schools, helping survivors attend gatherings and turning up for survivors' funerals. …