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Veterans Day: Honoring Those Who Served, and Sacrificed

Also: the Washington area gets a new museum -- the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Transcript of radio broadcast


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


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

We answer questions about American Indians …

Play some music by the group the Decemberists …

And report about Veterans Day.

Veterans Day

Saturday, November eleventh, is Veterans Day in the United States. It is a day to honor Americans who have served in the country’s military forces. Barbara Klein has more.


Many cities and towns across the United States hold ceremonies honoring the nation's veterans. Probably the most ceremonies are held in Washington, D.C. Several memorials honor the men and women who fought and died in the service of their country.

The National Veterans Day ceremony takes place at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington. This is where veterans from all the nation's wars are buried. Each year on Veterans Day, the president and other top officials lay a wreath of flowers at the Tomb of the Unknowns. They also attend a memorial service to honor those who were killed.

Another ceremony is held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Speakers and military bands honor those killed during the Vietnam War. Their names appear on the memorial itself. The speakers and Vietnam War veterans lay a wreath of flowers following the ceremony.

Navy officials lay a wreath at the Lone Sailor Statue at the United States Navy Memorial. Similar ceremonies are held at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the World War Two Memorial and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Air Force officials are holding Veterans Day ceremonies at the new Air Force Memorial in Virginia on Friday.

The United States Marine Corps also celebrates November tenth every year because it is the Marine Corps birthday. This year, the Marine Corps is celebrating the opening of the National Museum of the Marine Corps near the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

Government and Marine Corps officials are taking part in those opening ceremonies Friday. A Veterans Day memorial ceremony will be held Saturday to honor Marines no longer living. The museum will open to the public on Monday. Officials say the museum will make it possible for visitors to experience what it means to be a United States marine.

American Indians


November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage month in the United States. It honors the history, culture and traditions of American Indians and Alaska Native people. So, this week, we answer two listener questions about American Indians. Godswill Eke Kalu from Nigeria asks why Native Americans are called Indians. And Amrit Rai from Nepal asks about the economic situation of American Indians today.

The European explorer Christopher Columbus gave the name “Indians” to the native peoples of North and South America. He thought that he had reached a place called the Indies. In time, the terms "American Indian" and "Indian" became widely used.

The United States Bureau of Indian Affairs says the term “Native American” started to be used in the nineteen sixties. It describes American Indians and Alaska Natives. Later the term also included Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The government agency says the Eskimos and Aleuts of Alaska do not like to be called “Indians.” They call themselves “Alaska Natives”.

Many American Indians reject the term "Native American." They say it tries to describe too many different groups of people, including American Samoans, Aleuts and Hawaiians. These people want to be called "American Indians." Some want to be known by their tribe, such as Lakota or Navajo.

The United States Census Bureau says more than four million American Indians and Alaska natives lived in the country in two thousand four. Some live on government land called reservations or tribal lands. Others live in cities and towns.

The economic situation of American Indians as a group is not good. A continuing study by Harvard University says that American Indians generally earn less money than other Americans. It also says that they have more unemployment, higher rates of death and disease and less family unity than other American groups.

However, the study is also finding that an increasing number of tribes are creating successful businesses. For example, the Pequot tribe in the northeast owns and operates a hotel, gambling casino and museum of its culture and history. You can learn about a famous chief of the Lakota Indians known as Crazy Horse on the Special English program People in America on Sunday.

The Decemberists


The Decemberists are an independent rock group from Portland, Oregon. They perform songs filled with imaginative and unusual stories. The Decemberists’ music combines the storytelling of traditional songs with a modern rock sound. Their latest album is “The Crane Wife.” It tells about magical creatures and faraway lands. Faith Lapidus has more.



That was “Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)." It is a song about a nineteenth century American soldier who was killed in battle. He is singing from the dead to the woman he loves. He says he will come back to her one day on the breath of the wind.

Colin Meloy is the lead singer and songwriter of the Decemberists. His songs have a rich and poetic language. It might not surprise you that he studied English literature in college. Reading his songs is as interesting as listening to them. This autumn, the Decemberists will be traveling in the United States and Europe to perform their magical music. Here is the tragic love song “O Valencia!”


We close with the song the album is named after. “The Crane Wife Three” is based on a popular Japanese story. Colin Meloy discovered the story in a children’s book. He could not stop thinking about the story. Listen to this poetic song about a man who marries a magical bird.



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

This show was written by Dana Demange and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was the producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

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