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America Remembers Its Space Travelers at Astronaut Hall of Fame

Lawan Davis and Nancy Steinbach



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We answer a question about Elvis Presley and play some of his music …

Report about an unusual American language …

And tell about a Hall of Fame that honors American space heroes.

Astronaut Hall of Fame

Most people have heard of the Baseball and Football Halls of Fame. But they may not know about the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame. It is at the Kennedy Space Center in the state of Florida. Last week, the Hall of Fame honored three more space heroes. Barbara Klein explains.


The idea for the Astronaut Hall of Fame began in nineteen eighty-four. The six surviving members of America’s first group of astronauts and the widow of the seventh had the idea. They wanted to create a place where astronauts could be honored and remembered. The United States Astronaut Hall of Fame opened in nineteen ninety.

The former astronauts also wanted to help support America’s leadership in science and technology. So the group began providing money to American students to help pay for their college educations.

In nineteen ninety-five, they established the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Each year, it provides almost two hundred thousand dollars to help American students attend college to study science. It also helps supervise the choice of the astronauts to be honored each year.

Members of the Astronaut Hall of Fame must have made his or her first flight at least twenty years before. They must be retired at least five years. They must be United States citizens who have trained at the American space agency. And they must have orbited the Earth at least once.

On May sixth, three former space shuttle commanders became the newest members. Charles Bolden flew on four shuttle flights and was the pilot on the trip that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. He also commanded the first joint American-Russian Space Shuttle flight.

Henry Hartsfield flew on three space shuttle trips and piloted the shuttle Columbia’s final test flight. He also commanded the first space flight of the Shuttle Discovery.

Brewster Shaw flew on three space shuttle trips. His first space trip carried the European-built Spacelab and the first international shuttle crew. He also served on the committee that investigated the space shuttle Challenger explosion in nineteen eighty-six.

Sixty-three space explorers are honored at the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame. They include Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and Sally Ride.

The Gullah New Testament


The Gullah people of the southern United States have honored their language and culture for more than one hundred years. Many people are making efforts to keep the Gullah traditions alive. Faith Lapidus tells us more.


The Gullah people are an African-American population. They live mainly in the Sea Islands and coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

The Gullah people have a rich culture including their own language. It is a Creole language created by slaves who came to the United States from West Africa in the eighteen hundreds. It combines West African languages with English.

For many years efforts have been made to save the Gullah language and culture. One project began in nineteen seventy-nine. The goal was to translate the New Testament part of the Christian holy book, The Bible, into Gullah. Experts say it was a difficult process. Gullah is not a written language. It is a spoken language only.

A team of Gullah speakers began working on the translation to make The Bible easier to understand for those who spoke Gullah as their main language. The Gullah version is called De Nyew Testament. It is written in English on one side of the page. Next to it is the Gullah translation.

De Nyew Testament was published by the American Bible Society. The project also received help from the Summer Institute of Linguistics, Wycliffe Bible Translators, the United Bible Societies and the Penn Center.

Experts believe the translated Bible is a major step in saving the Gullah language and traditions. Robert Hodgson of the American Bible Society worked on the project. He says this is more than a Bible translation. He says De Nyew Testament raises the Gullah language and culture to a new level. The language had been dishonored as a lesser form of English.

Ardell Greene is a member of the translation team. She calls the book “a treasure.” She says the Gullah version of the Bible will be read in churches and will help young people keep the Gullah language alive.

You can learn more about the Gullah traditions and language at this Web site: That is spelled k-n-o-w-i-t-a-l-l. Click on Gullah Net.

Elvis Presley


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Burma. Ko Maw gyi asks about popular singer Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley may be the most popular recording artist in history. More than one thousand million of his recordings have sold throughout the world. He was a success in many different kinds of music—popular, country, religious and rhythm and blues. People everywhere still enjoy his recordings and films.

One of Elvis Presley’s most popular records was this one, “Hound Dog”. It sold five million copies when it was released in nineteen fifty-six.


Elvis Presley was born in the southern town of Tupelo, Mississippi in nineteen thirty-five. His family was extremely poor. He was working as a truck driver when he recorded his first record in nineteen fifty-three. It led to a series of local shows, new recordings and television appearances. One of these new recordings was “Heartbreak Hotel”.


Elvis Presley became a movie actor in the nineteen fifties. He acted in thirty-one movies. He served in the United States Army, then returned home to perform in shows and on television. In the nineteen seventies, he began taking drugs to help him sleep and to control his weight. He also suffered from the emotional sickness, depression. He died in nineteen seventy-seven. Medical tests showed many drugs in his body. Experts say they probably caused his death.

Hundreds of thousands of people still visit Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, Tennessee every year. And fans continue to buy his music. We leave you now with another of Elvis’ huge hit records, “Love Me Tender.”



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Lawan Davis and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

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