I suppose I am one of the few Americans still living who has experienced so many of the defining moments in American history.
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was my first and to this day, 78 years later, the memory is still as fresh as if it had happened yesterday.
The sun was shining and it was a wonderfully warm Sunday afternoon in Nebraska.
I had been to a matinee in my little hometown theater and was returning home to what was supposed to be a pleasant evening meal with the family. The moment I opened my front door, it was if the sun quit shining and the world stopped spinning.
Dad was sitting in the living room, his ear bent toward the radio and he immediately hushed me from speaking, explaining that our naval base in Hawaii had been attacked by the Japanese and America would soon be at war.
Now I knew absolutely nothing about our Pearl Harbor Naval Base, but I did know what war meant, as Dad had been severely injured in World War I and had the scars and the Purple Heart medal to prove it.
From that day to this, the memory of the pain I saw on his face stays with me and defines how life affected all of us during World War II.
Now, however, I have experienced enough of life to question why a small country like Japan would attack America, slaughter hundreds of people living in a beautiful island in peace, and try to destroy our navy in one fell swoop? So, as usual, when I have questions, I look for answers.
By the time those first Japanese bombers appeared in the sky over Pearl Harbor, tensions between the United States and Japan had been festering for almost a decade.
During the Great Depression of the thirties, Japan tried to solve its country's economic and demographic problems by invading Manchuria.
When the League of Nations condemned that invasion, Japan withdrew from that organization and continued to occupy Manchuria.
Then in 1937, a clash between Japanese and Chinese forces began a Sino-Japanese War and the Japanese proceeded to commit six weeks of mass killing, rapes, and other atrocities now known as the Nanking Massacre.
The United States followed with economic sanctions against Japan,  and gave economic support to the Chinese.
In September of 1940, Japan signed a Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, two fascist regimes who were at war with America's allies.
Roosevelt, anxious to prevent a global war, negotiated for months with Tokyo, but the Japanese were determined to stand their ground against Western influence in Asian affairs.
At that time, the United States had become widely recognized as a major world power, and Japan knew that in a war, the odds were stacked against them.
Their only opportunity was to use the element of surprise.
When they learned that the United States had made Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as the main base for its Pacific fleet, and had left it relatively unprotected, they decided that was an opportunity to destroy the bulk of our fleet.
At first, the attack seemed like a tremendous success for Japan.
All eight battleships were struck, with four completely sunk and the other four severely damaged.
In addition, 300 air craft were destroyed and more than 2,400 Americans were killed.
However the attack had failed in its mission to completely destroy the Pacific fleet, as they missed oil tanks, ammunition sites and repair facilities.
Also, not a single United States aircraft carrier had been in the harbor during the attack.
“The Day of Infamy” as our president had called it, was the only incentive needed to put the American people to work in an all-out war effort that would win the war and let every nation know that they shouldn't mess with freedom!