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Oh, Say, You Can See the Star-Spangled Banner Again in Washington

The famous flag on which the national anthem is based gets a new display. Also: A question from Turkey about Michael Jordan. And music by the band Cold War Kids. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. This week:

We listen to music from the Cold War Kids …

Answer a listener question about basketball superstar Michael Jordan …

And, report about a grand old flag's new home.

Star-Spangled Banner



Ten years ago, first lady Hillary Clinton launched the Save America's Treasures campaign. America's famous flag, the Star-Spangled Banner, was at the center of the effort. The flag flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, Maryland, in eighteen fourteen. The United States was at war with Britain. The sight of the flag still flying in the early morning after the battle led Francis Scott Key to write his famous poem, "The Star Spangled Banner," to celebrate the American victory. The poem later became America's national song. Shirley Griffith tells about the flag's history, how it was repaired and where it is now.


The commander of Fort McHenry, George Armistead, said he wanted a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.

A local flag maker, Mary Pickersgill, was chosen for the project. Four teenage girls -- her daughter, nieces and a servant -- helped sew the giant flag. It measured about nine by thirteen meters. A year later, it flew as bombs and rockets burst over Baltimore Harbor.

In nineteen twelve, the flag was given to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. One hundred years of wear and tear showed on the flag. Restoration expert Amelia Fowler sewed a material backing onto the flag to make it stronger for hanging.

The flag was hung in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in nineteen sixty-four. Then in nineteen ninety-eight officials removed it for a major restoration.

The Star-Spangled Banner went to a special conservation laboratory. A wide moving bridge was built. It floated right above the flag. Restorers could lie on the bridge to work on every part of the flag.

Experts also studied the cloth and condition of the flag to decide exactly what environment would be best for it. When all the repairs were complete, the Star-Spangled Banner was moved to its new home. The flag no longer hangs but lies on a table in a partly darkened room. A huge glass window provides a good view.

Brent Glass, director of the museum, said: "The Star-Spangled Banner is one of our nation's most treasured objects." He said its new surroundings are part of a plan to guarantee the long-term protection of the flag and help future generations experience what it means to be an American.

Visitor Scott Cook of Burke, Virginia, praised the flag project:

SCOTT COOK: "The Star-Spangled Banner was getting in really bad shape hanging up there vertically all those years. It was falling apart. That's a great exhibit. It's very nicely done."

Michael Jordan



Our listener question this week comes from Turkey. Erkut wants to know more about the basketball star Michael Jordan. Jordan is widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time. He is most famous for playing for the Chicago Bulls, but later in his career he played briefly for the Washington Wizards.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born in the Brooklyn area of New York City in nineteen sixty-three. He went to high school and college in the state of North Carolina. He played basketball in college for the North Carolina Tar Heels before being chosen to play for the Chicago Bulls in nineteen eighty-four.

Michael Jordan played for the Bulls for thirteen years. During this time, the team won six championships. Jordan became one of the highest scoring players in the National Basketball Association. He averaged thirty points a game during the regular season. He was recognized as the NBA's most valuable player five times during the regular season.

Michael Jordan became famous for the way he jumped through the air to score points. This skill earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness." Jordan also became known around the world for appearing in advertisements for companies including Nike, Gatorade and Coca Cola. Michael Jordan also won gold medals in nineteen eighty-four and nineteen ninety-two representing the United States basketball team during the summer Olympic Games.

Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls in nineteen ninety-four to play minor league baseball for one season. He retired from the team permanently in nineteen ninety-nine. He played briefly for the Washington Wizards starting in two thousand one.

Michael Jordan is currently an owner of the Charlotte Bobcats professional basketball team. He has given his name to many other businesses. There are several Michael Jordan restaurants. There is also a Michael Jordan Motor Sports group that races motorcycles.

Michael Jordan has given large amounts of money to many groups that help young people. These include the James R. Jordan Boys and Girls Club and Family Life Center in Chicago, Illinois. This community center was named in honor of his father, who was murdered in nineteen ninety-three.

The Jordan name is not leaving the basketball court anytime soon. Michael Jordan's twenty year old son Jeffrey now plays basketball for the University of Illinois.

Cold War Kids



Cold War Kids is a young rock band based in Los Angeles, California. Their popularity has grown mainly on the Internet and from many live performances. Bob Doughty tells about the group and plays some of its music.


Nathan Willett is the lead singer for Cold War Kids. He also plays guitar and piano. Jonnie Russell sings, plays guitar and percussion instruments. Matt Maust plays bass guitar and Matt Aveiro is the drummer.

The band's first album, "Robbers and Cowards," was released in two thousand six. Here is "Hang Me Up To Dry," from that album.


Nathan Willett has said that the British band Radiohead was a big influence on Cold War Kids. Other reported influences include The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and Billie Holiday.

Maybe you can hear some of their sounds in this next song from "Robbers and Cowards." It is called "Robbers."


Cold War Kids has been performing in Europe for several months. They released their second album, "Loyalty to Loyalty," in September. We leave you now with a song from that recording. Here is "Mexican Dogs."



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

It was written by Caty Weaver and Dana Demange, who was also 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.