The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After two tense years spent watching the war overseas, “the day that will live in infamy” thrust the United States into World War II overnight.

The day after the attack, the Library of Congress sent archivists around the country to record the thoughts and fears of a citizenry newly at war. Stored at the Library of Congress for nearly sixty years, these interviews — conducted on 9th and 13th Streets in Washington, D.C. — captured the voices of ordinary Americans at one of the most cataclysmic times in the nation’s history.

Recorded in Washington, D.C. Premiered December 10, 2000, on Weekend Edition Sunday.

This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.