by: Stephen Florino
(KHNL) - It's forever known as a date which will live in infamy -- December 7th, 1941.
That's the Sunday morning Japan attacked an unsuspecting Pearl Harbor, changing the world forever.
On this Sunday morning, many of those who were there are back in Hawaii, kicking off a series of events commemorating the 65th anniversary of the attack. But this year's events are taking a different tone, because it could be the end of an era.
It's hugs and handshakes taking decades in the making.
Three American servicemen exchanging gestures of friendship with three Japanese servicemen.
65-years ago they were enemies.
Today, it's much different.
"It's a symbol of friendship that exists now," said Lt. Col. Kermit Tyler, retired from the U.S. Army. He was on watch at Fort Shafter when the attack started. "It's rather an astonishing thing how the whole thing turned around and Japan is now a friend, a very reliable friend."
These meetings kick off the annual services remembering the attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 400 survivors are here. But most of them expect this is the last time they'll be back for the big events that happen every five years.
"I don't expect to be able to," said Tyler. "I'm 93 so, 98 maybe not."
"These guys are getting old, they are going away and their history, their stories will be lost forever," said Brian Anderson, a historian and World War II buff.
He was one of the many collecting autographs, shaking hands, and just talking story with these walking history books.
"To be able to know these guys, sit and talk to them and get their stories," said Anderson. "You're getting them live. You're getting them before the history revisionists change things."
In return, the survivors say they get a sense of appreciation and respect.
"Mostly now, I get they shake your hand and thank you and look you in the eye, and we like that," said Sen. CPO John Rauschkolb, retired from the U.S. Navy. He was on board the U.S.S West Virginia at the time of the attack.
These survivors love to share their stories, because they want the next generation to always remember December 7th, 1941.