Two years ago, a waning fraternity of local men who had survived the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor thought their 65th anniversary reunion would be the last.
“We are all getting old now,” Jack Carson of Overland Park told The Kansas City Star at the time, “and it’s almost too much to get anything done.”
A boy named Quinn changed that.
Today, Kansas City Metro Chapter III of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association — now fewer than a half-dozen veterans — will gather again for the 67th anniversary at a Mission community center.
The task of organizing and promoting the reunion was seized by 13-year-old Quinn Appletoft, a World War II buff who happened upon the group about eight years ago. Last year, he served as master of ceremonies.
Recently, he distributed fliers at two Shawnee Mission schools. His fliers read: “We will remember this day with survivors. … You can hear their stories of this tragic day and look at artifacts.”
Refreshments provided. Quinn hopes maybe 10 kids will come.
“When you have these guys together, what’s cool is they tell their own stories. I think that’s way better than reading out of a textbook,” he said.
Across the nation, aging Pearl Harbor veterans groups have begun to fold their collective tents: A Massachusetts chapter of seven active members held its final meeting in June. In Nevada, the Silver State Chapter No. 1 of the survivors association intends to surrender its charter today.
But the Kansas City chapter has been revved up by the kid from Mission and by his classmates.