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AMERICAN MOSAIC - History of the Olympics / The Statue of Liberty / Music From the Movie - 2004-08-13


Broadcast: August 13, 2004

DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

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This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

A new movie celebrates the music of Cole Porter.

A listener has a question about the Statue of Liberty, which has reopened to the public.

But first -- a brief history of the Olympics, as the Summer Games open today in Athens.

Summer Olympics

The first Olympic competition was held in the ancient Greek city of Olympia more than two thousand seven hundred years ago. The modern day summer Olympics begin today in the Greek capital, Athens. Gwen Outen tells us more about the Olympic Games.

GWEN OUTEN: At the first Olympics, men took part in foot races during celebrations to honor the Greek god, Zeus. More races and sports were added later.

Greece held these Olympic games every four years for the next one thousand years. The ancient Romans banned them in the fourth century.

The modern Olympic games began more than one hundred years ago. Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France proposed a world celebration of sports like the ancient games of Greece.

The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in eighteen ninety-six. Athletes from eight countries competed in ten sports. The purpose was to help athletes develop strength and values through competition. It also provided a way for athletes of all nations to become friends.

The Olympic symbol of five linked rings represents this friendship. Baron de Coubertin designed it in nineteen thirteen. The rings represent the linking through sports of the major populated areas of the world—Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the two American continents, represented by one ring. The colors of the rings are blue, yellow, black, green and red. The flag of each nation competing in the games has at least one of these colors. Under the rings is the Olympic saying in Latin: “Citius, Altius, Fortius”. The words mean “Swifter, Higher, Stronger”.

The Olympic flame links the old and new games. In ancient Olympia, a fire burned for the god Zeus during the sports competitions. Now, runners bring a flame from Olympia, Greece to every new Olympics. That flame opens the summer games today in Athens. They end August twenty-ninth.

About ten thousand athletes from more than two hundred nations will compete in the world’s most important international athletic event.

Statue of Liberty

DOUG JOHNSON: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Iran. Elnaz Ershadi asks about the Statue of Liberty in New York City. This is a good time to answer that question because the Statue of Liberty re-opened to visitors last week. It had been closed after the terrorist attacks in September, two thousand one. New York officials called the re-opening a sign of the recovery of the city and the country.

The Statue of Liberty represents a woman holding a torch of fire. It stands on an island at the entrance to the New York City harbor. It is almost ninety-three meters tall, one of the tallest statues ever built. Its complete name is “Liberty Enlightening the World”.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the people of the United States from the people of France. It was an expression of friendship and the goal of liberty shared by the people of both countries.

The idea for the statue came from a French history expert in eighteen sixty-five. Six years later, artist Frederic Bartholdi traveled to the United States to seek support for building the statue. He decided it should stand on an island in New York harbor.

Bartholdi began designing the statue when he returned to France. He designed the woman’s face to look like his mother’s. French officials organized a group to raise money and supervise the project. The French people gave four hundred thousand dollars to build the statue. In eighteen seventy-seven, the Americans established a similar committee to raise money needed to build the statue’s base.

The statue was built in France. Bartholdi had hoped it would be ready on the one hundredth anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence in eighteen seventy-six. But it was not. France officially presented the statue to the United States Minister to France in Paris on July fourth, eighteen eighty-four.

The statue was then taken apart and sent to the United States. “Liberty Enlightening the World” was completed in the United States in eighteen eighty-six. New York City celebrated with a huge parade. President Grover Cleveland and other American and French officials attended. Since then, the Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of freedom for people all over the world. Its meaning is expressed in the famous poem by Emma Lazarus that is written on the statue’s base. Here is part of that poem:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Cole Porter

Cole Porter was one of America’s most famous and successful songwriters. He wrote songs for Broadway musical shows and Hollywood movies. He wrote most of his songs in the nineteen-twenties, thirties and forties. But they remain popular today. A new movie about Cole Porter was released last month. Shep O’Neal tells us about the man and his music.

SHEP O'NEAL: Cole Porter lived from eighteen ninety-one until nineteen sixty-four. More than five-hundred of his songs were recorded in his lifetime. The new movie about his life is called “De-Lovely.” Popular young performers sing his songs in the movie. The songs were released on a new CD, also called “De-Lovely.” Robbie Williams sings the song “It’s De-Lovely.”

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Cole Porter’s songs were funny, sexy and intelligent. They were full of little jokes and hidden meanings. One of his earliest big hits was “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love.)” Alanis Morissette sings it.

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Critics consider “Night and Day” perhaps the finest song Cole Porter ever wrote. It is about the kind of romantic love that is almost a form of insanity. We leave you now with John Barrowman and Kevin Kline singing “Night and Day” in the movie “De-Lovely.” You can learn more about Cole Porter on the Special English program People in America on Sunday.

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HOST:

DOUG JOHNSON: This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English. Our program was written by Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. Paul Thompson was our producer. And our engineer was Jim Sleeman.

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