Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA's radio magazine in SpecialEnglish.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we:
Play some music from The Band ...
Answer a question about the International Space Station ...
And learn about a little known hero of American history.
Washington, D.C., has many memorials. Some honor formerpresidents. Others honor Americans who fought in wars.
Recently, a crowd gathered near the Potomac River for the openingof the George Mason National Memorial. It is in a garden, nearcolorful flowers and a water fountain. A metal statue of a man sitson a seat. A few of his most famous writings are on a nearby stonewall. George Mason was responsible for the first American bill ofrights. Shep O'Neal tells us about him.
George Mason held few public offices. Yet his ideas influencedboth the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights in theUnited States Constitution. Later, his ideas were used in the UnitedNations Universal Declaration of Rights.Graphic Image
George Mason was born in thecolony of Virginia in Seventeen-Twenty-Five. He studied law andsupervised his family's property. Mister Mason became active in hiscommunity. He was famous for opposing the British colonialgovernment. However, he refused public office many times. He enjoyedbeing a private citizen.
p>Finally, George Mason became a delegate to the VirginiaConvention in Seventeen-Seventy-Five. The following year, he waschosen to write Virginia's Declaration of Rights. It became his mostimportant work.
The Virginia Declaration of Rights has been called the firstAmerican bill of rights. The declaration called for freedom of thepress. It called for an official policy that permitted differentreligions. It also declared an individual's right to a fair andspeedy trial.
A few years later, George Mason took part in creating the UnitedStates Constitution. However, he strongly disagreed with parts ofit. He objected to a compromise that permitted the importation ofslaves to continue until Eighteen-Oh-Eight. Mister Mason ownedslaves, but he was one of the few southern state delegates to opposeslavery. He believed that slaves should be educated and later freed.George Mason had other concerns about the proposed Constitution. Hewanted a bill of rights to protect individuals against possibleinterference by the federal government.
George Mason refused to sign the Constitution. And he opposed thedocument when it was offered to the states for approval. But helived to see the Bill of Rights added to the Constitution inSeventeen-Ninety-One. That was one year before George Mason died.
International Space Station
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Laos. BouahomDamrong asks about the International Space Station.Graphic Image
Some scientists have called theInternational Space Station the largest and most importantinternational scientific project in history. The Space Station willbe a permanent laboratory to test new industrial materials andcommunications devices and to carry out medical research. The spacestation will be used for such research because gravity, temperatureand pressure can be controlled and changed in ways impossible to doin laboratories on Earth.
The building of the International Space Station began inNineteen-Ninety-Eight with the launch of the Zarya spacecraft fromRussia. Project planners say it will take about forty-four launchesof Russian rockets and American space shuttles to complete thestructure. They hope to have the work done by Two-Thousand-Four.
The complete space station will be one-hundred-nine meters acrossand eighty-eight meters long. It will weigh more thanfour-hundred-fifty-thousand kilograms.
Large devices that collect sunlight and change it to electricpower will extend over an area of almost one-half hectare. The spacestation will provide working and living areas for a crew of up toseven astronauts and scientists. These areas will be about the samesize as two huge passenger planes.
The International Space Station is a joint effort of the UnitedStates, Canada, Japan, Russia, Brazil and eleven members of theEuropean Space Agency. Many of these countries build parts for thespace station. Each piece is then taken into space and linkedtogether by astronauts.
American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts have been living onthe space station for more than a year. They have already completedseveral scientific experiments. The first crew of three to live onthe space station left Earth in October, Two-Thousand and spent morethan one-hundred-thirty-eight days there. The fifth group isexpected to arrive in June and leave in October.
The United States space agency's Kennedy Space Center InternetWeb site provides much more information about the InternationalSpace Station. The Internet address is www.ksc.nasa.gov.
A famous rock and roll group called the Band was popular in thenineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies. It is popular again becauseof a movie and an album called "The Last Waltz." Mary Tillotsontells us more.
The members of the group first started performing with singerRonnie Hawkins as the Hawks. Then Bob Dylan asked them to performwith him. In Nineteen-Sixty-Eight, they began performing on theirown as the Band. The Band's songs are like many traditional Americansongs -- they tell stories. This song is about the Civil War betweenthe northern and southern states in the Eighteen-Sixties. It iscalled "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."
((CUT ONE: THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN))
The Band decided to stop performing in Nineteen-Seventy-Six. Themembers held one last concert in San Francisco, California. Theyasked several famous artists to perform with them.Graphic Image
Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, NeilYoung, Joni Mitchell and Muddy Waters appeared with them. A famousHollywood movie director, Martin Scorsese, filmed the concert.
Some critics have called "The Last Waltz" one of the greatestrock and roll movies of all time. It is now being shown again inseveral American cities. A new album of music from the concert alsohas been released. Here is one of the songs from the movie and thealbum. It is called "Rag Mama Rag."Graphic Image
((CUT TWO: RAG MAMA RAG))
Experts say the Band's music influenced many other performers.They say its music still sounds powerful and new, more thantwenty-five years later. We leave you now with the Band performing"It Makes No Difference."
((CUT THREE: IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE))
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And Ihope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA'sradio magazine in Special English.
This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Shelley Gollust,George Grow and Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was CurtisBynum. And our producer was Paul Thompson.