Primary Source: Americans React to Pearl Harbor

After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor presents live interviews with over 200 American people across the country after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Below is a sampling of an interview from this collection.

Side 1

[Clip #1]

C. R. Jabbers, Elon College, North Carolina. Mr. President, it seems foolish for me to try to tell a man as smart as you are something he doesn't already know. I'm only a painter, of course, so was Hitler, but I make my living by working and instead of murdering and robbing other people. I've thought and I've had a lot of ideas rather, in different times and I thought I would mention and did think of writing to you, but in the course of twenty-four hours it usually comes out in print showing that you had thought of it before I had. I'd like to mention a few things though, that is on my mind. That is, I think it would be nice if to put defense factories in every locality as near as possible. Especially through the Carolinas. Here, Americanism is about one hundred percent and you can entrust anyone here to guard anything from a spy to United States mint.

[Clip #2]

Larestein Wagoner, Route 4, Burlington, NC. Mr. President, I'm just a carpenter and you hear quite a lot on the job about the war and it seems that if the rest of the USA is as much with you as we are just give us a job and we'll do it. For we can't take a chance with this country of ours and the freedom we have.

[Clip #3]

My name is T. O. Sharp, Burlington, North Carolina. Mr. President, just to say I never was so proud of my country as I am today. [inaudible]

[Clip #4]

This is T. O. Sharp, Burlington, North Carolina. Mr. President, just to say I never was so proud of my country as I am today. I consider it the greatest privilege of my life to have a part in winning the act which we have undertaken. I do not term it a sacrifice on my part, but an opportunity to render service second to that honor of Christ dying on the cross in the interest of mankind. There is no doubt of final victory.

[Clip #5]

This here is Herman Shepherd talking. I run a little service station and grocery store, and my address is Burlington, Route 4. Naturally I hear a lot of people talking and the main subject is about the war. Everybody seems mighty calm and taking it mighty easy.

Side 2

[Clip #6]

I am Herman Shepherd, Burlington, Route 4. I run a little store and service station. Naturally, I talk to a right smart of people. Everybody seems to feel assured that we're on the right side and that the war will come out all right. Several of our boys are in service now and it seems like that they're well-satisfied and been treated mighty good and we've got several more in the next registration that they kind of dread it some of them. Some of them are hoping for the time to come when they can do all they can for their country. A lot of people that are talking about taxes being so much higher, but naturally we all want to do all we can for the country and for the -- to help win the war because we feel like we're all fighting for a good cause.

[Clip #7]

L. W. Wagoner, Elon College, North Carolina. I want to say we're right behind you, our president. We don't care how much work it takes of us. We are ready and are working longer hours. Here on the farm we're making ready for the '42 crop. It's going to take farmers to win this just like it took soldiers. It's going to take food just like it takes planes and guns. I went all the way to Washington to see you inaugurated the last time. I've been for you all the way and you can count on me till we get Hitler and the rest of his gang.


Credit text

"Man on the street" interviews conducted January–February, 1942. From the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.