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On the Smithsonian Channel tonight: Alan Lomax’s man-on-the-street interviews the day after Pearl Harbor

The phrase originally was to be “a date which will live in world history.”

Not the same, is it? The original wording doesn’t quite capture the shock, anger and outrage this nation felt after Imperial Japan launched a Sunday surprise air strike against the U.S. Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing more than 2,400 Americans and severely damaging the U.S. fleet. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made one savvy editing change before delivering his post-Pearl Harbor address to a joint session of Congress: “December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy …”

The Smithsonian Channel announced the debut of “The Lost Tapes: Pearl Harbor,” a look at the historic attack on United States military forces that brought the country into World War II. This program uses a wealth of original audio and film sources, much of it never available to the public before including folklorist Alan Lomax’s man-on-the-street interviews the day after the attack.

According to the producers, the following rare materials have also not been used in any other documentary:

  • Audio recording of meeting with FDR and an advisor in Oval Office regarding Japanese threats, 1940
  • Live radio reports from Manila during the Japanese bombing the day after, on December 8 — it’s a part of the attack that’s almost always forgotten 
  • Radio broadcast of the Japanese general declaring war on the U.S.
  • Original draft of Declaration of War on Japan document
  • Written Navy dispatches regarding the attack

The program airs tonight on the Smithsonian Channel at 8:00pm (ET).

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