Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I’m June Simms.
On our show this week, news on Lady Gaga, Green Day and other stars of the music industry…
We tell also tell about “The Impossible,” a new movie about the disastrous Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.
But first, we take a rare look at one of the most important documents in American history.
Emancipation Proclamation Exhibit
This week, the United States marked the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The document freed slaves in the southern states that were fighting to secede --- to separate from the United States. President Abraham Lincoln signed the document on Jan. 1, 1863.
The federal government held a public exhibition of the Emancipation Proclamation this week in Washington. Christopher Cruise tells about the rare showing.
The National Archives put the proclamation on display for just a few days. It is a rare copy because it is signed by President Lincoln, and because it has the presidential seal, although the years have destroyed much of the seal.
While it did not immediately free slaves in all of the United States, the Proclamation did lead to the approval of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. That measure ended slavery in the United States. The fight over the 13th amendment is the subject of director Steven Spielberg’s current movie “Lincoln.”
Reginald Washington is an expert in African-American documents at the National Archives. He says the document changed the debate about why the Civil War was being fought.
“The proclamation, however, did bring about a fundamental change in the character of the war. With a stroke of Lincoln’s pen, a war to preserve the union had overnight become a war for human liberation. For the nearly 4,000,000 slaves held in bondage, it was a symbol of hope. It gave confirmation to their beliefs and insistence that the war should be -- and was for them -- a war to secure their freedom.”
Mr. Washington says many historians and scholars believe the Emancipation Proclamation is one of the greatest documents in human freedom. He says some historians believe it is as important in American history at the Declaration of Independence.
The National Archives has produced a free e-book on the Emancipation Proclamation. The one hundred fifty year old document was not well cared-for in the past. To protect it from further damage, officials permit its display for only 30 hours a year. However, the National Archives is considering the proclamation’s display in other parts of the country this year to celebrate its anniversary.
Eight years ago, huge deadly waves hit the coasts of several Indian Ocean countries. 230,000 people were killed in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand. A new film explores the horrific experience of one family on the Thai coast when the waves arrived.
“The Impossible” stars Naomi Watts as Maria and Ewan McGregor as Henry, her husband. The couple is on vacation with their three boys. The tsunami waves separate Maria and Lucas, the oldest son, from the others. Maria is severely injured.
Henry and the two younger boys desperately search for her and Lucas.
“The Impossible” recreates a very realistic version of a powerful wave that crushes everything in its path. The film shows the disorder and suffering in the period that followed the tsunami. But it also depicts the caring, love and help people provide in a crisis.
Juan Antonio Bayona directed “The Impossible.”
“I really believe it’s an experience. I left it open so that the audience could leave the theater with something to think about.”
Ewan McGregor left, Naomi Watts and J.A. Bayona last month at the screening of "The Impossible" in New York City
Watts, McGregor and young actor Tom Holland provide deeply moving performances. But, no film can perfectly represent the pain and sadness of those people who lost loved ones in the tsunami.
Like reporter Murizal Hamzah. He was living in Banda Aceh, Indonesia at the time. He lost his sister and mourns her to this day.
“On average, most people in Banda Aceh lost at least one member of their family in that disaster. When the tsunami hit my place my sister and I were separated. I went to an empty house and she run to the other way with some friend. I lost some relatives too who lived in the next village.”
Some critics say the filmmaker was wrong to tell the story of one European family, while hundreds of thousands of Asians died. But, others say “The Impossible” is a memorial to all the victims.
A lot happened in the music world during the past few days. There was good news and bad. Jim Tedder tells us about the recent happenings.
The punk rock band Green Day is going back on the road. The group announced on Monday that it would re-launch its concert series in March.
Green Day cancelled performances last year because its leader, Billie Joe Armstrong, was seeking treatment for drug abuse. Armstrong placed a message about his recovery on Instagram. He thanked his supporters and said “I’m getting better every day.” In his words, “the show must go on.”
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at an NBA basketball game last month
Rapper Kanye West also announced major news this week. He told concert goers in Atlantic City that he was expecting a baby with reality show entertainer Kim Kardashian. The two stars starting dating in April.
Kardashian confirmed the pregnancy, saying she and Kanye feel lucky to be starting a family.
Kardashian is in the process of divorcing her husband, professional basketball player Kris Humphries. They separated after seventy-two days of marriage in two thousand eleven.
The famed soul singer Bobby Womack has Alzheimer’s disease. Womack told the BBC that he is suffering from memory problems. He said his doctor told him that the condition was not bad yet but would worsen.
Doctors discovered that Womack had colon cancer last year. After treatment he announced he was cancer-free.
Last June, the sixty-eight year old entertainer released his first album in 18 years. “The Bravest Man in the Universe” was noted on many critics' lists of best albums of 2012.
Lady Gaga's Born Brave tour bus
Finally, Lady Gaga plans to provide mental health help for fans during her Born This Way Ball concert series. The singer plans to open her Born Brave tour bus before shows to people seeking assistance with mental health problems like depression. There are to be group and private discussions of issues including bullying, problems with friends and other social pressures.
Lady Gaga says the Born Brave Bus will be a place people can seek advice without being judged.
Lady Gaga also just announced that she will stop smoking marijuana during the recording of her next album, “Artpop.” The artist has been very open about her love for the drug.