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AMERICAN MOSAIC - May 23, 2003: New Hampshire Rock Formation / A Question about the United States Symbol / Singer Kem - 2003-05-22



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today,

We answer a listener’s question about the American eagle ...

Play music by KEM ...

And report about a natural disaster in New England.

The Old Man Of The Mountain


The people in the American state of New Hampshire are mourning the loss of a state treasure. A famous rock formation called the Old Man of the Mountain suddenly crashed to the ground early this month. For years, the rock formation was said to represent New Hampshire and its people. Shep O’Neal has more about this natural wonder.


The Old Man of the Mountain represented New Hampshire for two centuries. However, the rock formation was a lot older. State officials say it was created by a series of natural events than began about two-hundred-million years ago.

The Old Man of the Mountain was made of five separate areas of granite rock. The rock formation was on the side of a mountain, three-hundred-sixty-five meters above a lake. When seen from far away, the rocks looked like the face of a man. The face was twelve meters tall, from the top of the head to the chin.

Many people traveled to the small New Hampshire town of Franconia Notch to see this natural wonder. The Old Man also was the subject of a number of stories and poems.

In the nineteenth century, New Hampshire Congressman Daniel Webster compared the rocks to a sign that a craftsman used to show the product he made. He wrote “in the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.”

The people of New Hampshire felt that the Old Man represented their firmness and independence. New Hampshire officials put images of the rock formation on the state’s road signs and vehicle license plates. The United States Treasury Department even put the image on pieces of money.

In recent years, New Hampshire officials found that water and ice were breaking the rocks. Workers used metal wires and sticky materials to hold the Old Man together. Yet its sudden disappearance shocked many people. Crowds gathered at Franconia Notch to look at what remains of the mountain.

Some people have attempted to sell pieces of rock said to be from the Old Man of the Mountain. New Hampshire officials said such sales are illegal and that the rocks belong to the government. The state now is asking for suggestions about the future of the Old Man. A few people have suggested a campaign to rebuild the famous rock formation.

The American Eagle


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. A listener asks why the eagle is the symbol of the United States.

The men who founded the United States of America decided in seventeen-eighty-two that the bald eagle would represent the country. They chose the eagle because of its long life, great strength, good looks and because it was believed to exist only in North America. The eagle was also seen as a symbol of freedom and bravery.

The eagle became the national symbol of the country when the American leaders approved the design of the Great Seal of the United States. The picture in the center of the Great Seal is a bald eagle. This is the story.

After the thirteen British colonies in North America voted to declare their independence, their leaders decided they needed an official drawing, or seal. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson formed a committee to design one. The only part of their work accepted by the American Congress was the statement in Latin of “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning “From many, one.”

It was not until six years later, in seventeen-eighty-two, that Congress approved a drawing for the seal by artist Charles Thomson. It showed an eagle carrying symbols representing the power of peace and war. And it was not until seventeen-eighty-seven that the American bald eagle was officially approved as the symbol of the United States.

It took so long to decide because many people did not agree that the eagle should represent the new country. Benjamin Franklin was disappointed in the choice. He called the eagle a dishonest animal that steals food from other birds. Mister Franklin supported the turkey as the national bird because he said it was a true native of the country.

Most Americans today agree with President John Kennedy’s comments about the national symbol. He said that the beauty and independence of the eagle correctly represents the strength and freedom of the United States.



Last year, a singer called Kem independently released his first album. It sold more than ten-thousand copies before he signed an agreement with a major record company. Steve Ember tells us more about Kem.


Kem is a singer, songwriter and producer. He was born in Nashville, Tennessee and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He taught himself to play the piano when he was five years old. His first album is called Kemistry. He no longer has to sell it on his own. The major record company Motown Records recently released the album. Here is Kem singing “Love Calls.”


Music critics and fans praise Kem for his soulful songs. They like the meaningful words he writes. And they like the way he sings those words with feeling. Listen as Kem sings “I’m Missin’ Your Love.”


Kem sings with the choir in the church he attends. He says staying spiritually connected has helped him to be successful. We leave you now with the song “Brotha Man” by Kem from his album Kemistry.



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. Write us with your questions about American life. We will try to answer them on future programs. Listeners whose questions are chosen will receive a gift.

Write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C. two-zero-two-three-seven, USA. Or send e-mail to mosaic at v-o-a news dot com. Please include your name and mailing address.

Our program was written by Lawan Davis, George Grow and Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was Wayne Shorter. And our producer was Paul Thompson.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.