At 7:48 a.m. Pearl Harbor time 72 years ago today, two waves of Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes launched from six aircraft carriers attacked eight US Navy battleships, sinking four, in the attack on Pearl Harbor. A total of 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded, making it, in the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "a day that shall live in infamy."
It was the beginning of World War II, a war that America had tried desperately to stay out of, but that the country would be inextricably bound up in for nearly four years.
Fought on two fronts - in the Pacific theatre and later Africa and Europe - World War II was high in cost of lives and materiel. It required sacrifices not only from our armed forced but also people at home where everything from meat to nylons to gasoline was severely rationed.
World War II saw the largest infusion of women into the workforce until then. Rosie the Riveter became a household name, and schoolchildren drilled, believing it was only a matter of time until they would be called to defend their country.
The Japanese invaded the far reaches of Alaska and even managed to drop fire bombs on the western US where they hoped to set the nation's vast timber reserves afire.
America answered back on April 18, 1942 when 16 B-25 bombers under command of Col. Jimmy Doolittle took off from the deck of the US Hornet to bomb Tokyo. Granted, it was mainly a token attack, but it showed the Japanese that they were not immune to retribution.
Now, these 72 years later, Japan is a staunch ally of the US, even as Communist China has created an illegal no-fly zone over international territory.
But America is there, defending the right of people to operate in international airspace without fear of reprisal.
Yes, the players have changed. Alliances have shifted. But the principles remain the same. We will continue to defend the right of people to free lives - no matter where in the world they may be.