HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English. I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We hear some music by Wilson Pickett …
Answer a question about a hero of the American Revolution …
And report about the American professional football championship game.
The Super Bowl
Sunday, February fifth, is not a holiday in the United States, but it may seem like one to millions of Americans. They will be attending parties to watch the championship game of American professional football on television. Thousands of others will attend the Super Bowl game in Detroit, Michigan. Faith Lapidus has more.
FAITH LAPIDUS: The Super Bowl is played every year between the champion teams of the two conferences of the National Football League. On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks are playing in the Super Bowl for the first time in the team’s thirty-year history. American sports experts say the game should be a good one. Still, they expect Pittsburgh to win by a little more than three points. The Steelers have a historic link to the Super Bowl. They have won it four times. But that was in the nineteen seventies.
The Steelers say they had another important reason for getting to the Super Bowl this year. One of the oldest Steelers players is Jerome Bettis, whose hometown is Detroit, Michigan. All year long, Bettis has been telling his teammates to help get him home to Detroit for the Super Bowl. Bettis is expected to retire from professional football after this year. So it was even more important to him to play in the Super Bowl in his hometown.
Detroit has been preparing for the expected one hundred thousand people who will arrive for the game. The city has spent a great deal of money improving the central business area. Visitors will also attend some of the one hundred twenty other events in the city linked to the championship football game.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told the New York Times newspaper that having the Super Bowl in his city will help the local economy greatly. He says the Super Bowl could bring as much as three hundred million dollars to the city. This includes spending on hotel rooms, food, transportation and other activities in the city.
HOST: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Nigeria. John Achugonye asks about someone in American history named Haym [HA-yim] Salomon. Haym Salomon was a Jewish immigrant to the United States. He played an important part in raising money for the American war of Independence against Britain.
Haym Salomon was born in Poland in seventeen forty. He settled in New York City in seventeen seventy-two. He became successful as a financial dealer in securities. He also became active in the cause for American independence as a member of a group called The Sons of Liberty. When the Revolutionary War began in seventeen seventy-six, he was arrested and jailed by the British as a spy.
British officials discovered that he could speak several languages so they used him to speak to their German troops. Instead, he urged the Germans to leave the British military service. He was arrested again two years later, but escaped to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Haym Salomon again established himself as a dealer in financial securities. He was also active in Jewish life in Philadelphia. He was a founding member of the city’s first Jewish religious center. He also helped lead efforts to change laws that barred non-Christians from holding public office in Pennsylvania.
Haym Salomon continued to work for American independence from Britain. The French Minister appointed him paymaster for the French forces fighting with the Americans. The Dutch and Spanish governments also used him to sell securities that supported their loans to the American Continental Congress.
Later, he worked to help pay American government expenses during the war. He also personally loaned money to members of the Continental Congress and other federal officials.
Haym Salomon died in seventeen eighty-five. He had no money, possibly because he provided so much support to the early American government. Later, Congress refused to recognize claims made by his family that it re-pay money it owed him.
In nineteen thirty-six, Congress voted to build a memorial to him in the District of Columbia, but never released the money to do so. In the nineteen seventies, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp in his honor. The stamp called Haym Salomon a “Financial Hero of the American Revolution."
American soul singer Wilson Pickett died last month of a heart attack. He was sixty-four years old. Steve Ember looks back at his life and his music.
STEVE EMBER: Wilson Pickett learned to sing in church as a boy in the southern state of Alabama. He moved to Detroit, Michigan with his family when he was fourteen. He soon joined local singing groups.
Pickett started recording on his own in the early nineteen sixties. His first hit song was one he wrote with guitar player Steve Cropper. It was “In The Midnight Hour”.
Wilson Pickett recorded nine albums in the next five years. His hit songs included “Funky Broadway” and “634-5789.”
Years later, in nineteen ninety-one, several of his songs became popular again. They were performed by an Irish soul band in the movie “The Commitments”. Here is Wilson Pickett singing one of those hits, “Mustang Sally.”
Wilson Pickett was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in nineteen ninety-one. He continued performing until poor health forced him to stop two years ago. We leave you now with his song, “Land of a Thousand Dances.”
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
Our show was written by Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.
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