Broadcast: July 9, 2004
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
This is Doug Johnson.
On our show this week: some rap music by the Beastie Boys.
And a listener wants to know about the names of some cities in the western state of California.
But first, a report about activities last weekend in the eastern state of Pennsylvania.
Battle of Gettysburg
Last weekend, many Americans visited the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. That is because the first three days in July is the anniversary of one of the most important battles in the American Civil War. Shep O’Neal has more.
Gettysburg is about one-hundred kilometers north of Washington, D.C. It is a peaceful place, surrounded by low hills and rich farmland. But during the first three days of July in eighteen-sixty-three, the armies of the North and South met in one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
It began when Southern soldiers rode into the northern town of Gettysburg looking for new shoes. They found Northern soldiers instead. Other soldiers of the two armies rushed to the area. For three days, they battled fiercely near the small town.
When the fighting ended, more than fifty-one-thousand soldiers were dead, wounded or missing. The Southern army fled to Virginia, never again to invade the North.
Today, the Gettysburg battlefield is a National Military Park. More than one-million people visit each year. Some visitors are interested in military history. They study the methods of the opposing generals. Others want to see the thousands of monuments and statues made by famous artists that honor the men who fought there. But most visit because Gettysburg is one of the best known names in American history.
On the anniversary of the great battle, park guides take visitors on special walks that follow the paths taken by northern and southern troops. Battle experts dressed as Northern and Southern soldiers are placed around the park to explain what happened during the battles. They also demonstrate the guns used during the Civil War. And they answer questions from visitors.
Just outside the town of Gettysburg, men and women dress as Northern and Southern troops. They re-create some of the famous battles that took place on those three days in July, eighteen-sixty-three.
All of this activity brings a lot of money to the small town of Gettysburg. Officials say the park gets about six-thousand visitors on a normal day during the summer. But on the anniversary weekend, at least ten-thousand visitors come to the park each day.
Spanish Names in California
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Brazil. Francisco de Assis Mateus would like to know why so many big cities in the western state of California have Spanish names. These include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco.
The simple answer is that they were named by Spanish explorers. However, there is more to that story. We really have to start at the beginning in southern California near the American border with Mexico.
San Diego was the first Spanish settlement in California. Spanish soldiers built a fort there in seventeen-sixty-nine. The settlement was named for San Diego de Alcala, a Spanish saint, or holy man. Americans have called San Diego the birthplace of California.
As the Spanish soldiers moved up the coast, they found other places that would made good settlements. One of these is -- get ready for this long name – “Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula.” In English it means “Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula.”
Porciuncula was a Roman Catholic church in Italy linked with Saint Francis of Assisi. He was the founder of the Franciscan Order of religious workers and priests. Franciscan Priest Juan Crespi gave the area that name. Today it has a much shorter name -- Los Angeles or just “L.A.”
We would like to tell you about one more city in California -- San Francisco. The first explorer to give the area that name was, in fact, not Spanish but Portuguese. In fifteen-ninety-five, Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno named part of the California coast “Puerto de San Francisco.” Or, Port of Saint Francis. Later, the Spanish discovered the great harbor where the city of San Francisco was later built. A small settlement near the present city was called Pueblo de San Francisco.
After the war between Mexico and the United States in eighteen-forty-six, Americans called the growing city San Francisco. A small island in the harbor was given the old Spanish name, Yerba Buena. So that explains the names of some cities in California.
I am sorry we do not have time to tell about Portola, Los Gatos, San Dimas, San Bernardino, Los Altos, San Carlos, San Juan Capistrano, Escondido, San Jose ...
The Beastie Boys
Critics are praising a new recording by the American rap group the Beastie Boys. The group has been performing and recording since nineteen-eighty-one. Faith Lapidus tells us more.
The three members of the Beastie Boys are Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch and Michael Diamond. The group’s first album was released in nineteen-eighty-five. It was called “License to Ill.” It became the first rap album to be number one on the list of most popular records at the time. It sold more than eight-million copies in the United States. The biggest single record on the album was this song, “You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party.”
In nineteen-ninety-nine, the Beastie Boys won two Grammy Awards from the American record industry. One was for Best Alternative Music Performance for the song “Hello Nasty.” The other was Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for this song, “Intergalactic.”
Now, the Beastie Boys have a new album, “To the Five Boroughs.” The album sold more than three-hundred-sixty-thousand copies in the United States in its first week of release. We leave you with the first single from that album, “Ch-Check It Out.”
This is Doug Johnson.
Send your questions about American life to email@example.com. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, USA.
Please include your name and postal address. We will send you a gift if we use your question.
This program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. Paul Thompson was our producer. And our engineer was Zenab Abdulrahman.
I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.