Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today:
We play some electric guitar music ...
tell about an unusual baseball season ...
and report about the new popularity of the American flag.
The American Flag
Millions of Americans have been flying their national flag since the terrorist attacks in the United States last month. They are doing so to support their country and remember the victims of the attacks. Shirley Griffith tells us about it.
Manufacturers of American flags have been working many additional hours lately. Workers in factories from China to the American state of Florida are trying to make enough flags to satisfy American public demand. Record numbers of people in the United States are buying the red, white and blue flags. Sales have increased by at least two-hundred percent since the terrorist attacks on September Eleventh.
In the past, many Americans only flew the flag outside their homes on national holidays, like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day.
Now, people are flying these flags everywhere. Americans have placed the flags on trucks, cars, boats and bicycles. They have hung the flags from office buildings, homes and stores. Flags are waving over theaters, concert halls, private clubs and hotels.
Some Americans were surprised to learn that there are laws governing the flag. For example, it should not be flown at night unless it is lighted. The flag should not hang outside in bad weather unless it is made of protective material. It should never be worn on clothes.
After the terrorist attacks, President Bush ordered the American flag flown at half-staff. This meant that flags on poles were flying at half the distance to the top. This position is a sign of mourning.
The American flag has a long and interesting history. America began as thirteen British colonies. Each colony had its own flag. However, the American colonists fought under a common flag during the Revolutionary War against Britain. It had thirteen red and white stripes to represent the thirteen colonies. A blue square area in the upper left corner contained the British flag. The current American flag still has the stripes. Fifty white stars in the blue area now represent the fifty states in the union.
Recently, sixty graduates of the United States Naval Academy honored those killed and injured in the terrorist attacks in an unusual way. They formed teams of runners. They carried an American flag about three-hundred-sixty kilometers from Washington, D-C, to New York City. They carried the American flag from the Pentagon to the ruins of the World Trade Center.
A Record Baseball Season
The North American professional baseball season ended on Sunday. Perhaps no other sport has deeper roots in American life than baseball. Famous players are as well-known to Americans as the country’s great scientists, writers and political leaders.
Ray Freeman has more about a most unusual baseball season.
Millions of people have been following Major League Baseball since the first games played in early April. Yet this year will be remembered for being far different from all others.
The terrorist attacks on September eleventh delayed the end of the baseball season. After the attacks, Major League officials postponed all games for one week. The postponed games were added to the end of the normal season.
This baseball season will be remembered for the many records set. Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants set a record for the most home runs in a season. He hit seventy-three home runs this year. The old record was seventy home runs, set by Mark McGwire three years ago.
Bonds became the oldest player to lead Major League baseball in home runs. He is thirty-seven years old. Bonds also set a record for the most walks in a season. He reached first base without a hit more times than any other player.
Rickey Henderson of the San Diego Padres also was busy setting records this year. In April, he established a record for total number of walks by a player. He also set a record for the most runs. Also, on Sunday, Henderson made his three-thousandth hit. That is not a record. But only twenty-five other players have had that many hits.
Two of those players retired at the end of the season. Tony Gwynn played his final game Sunday after twenty years with the San Diego Padres. Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles also retired. For more than seventeen years, Ripken played in every Orioles’ game. That also is a record.
Baseball is a game of records. However, many Americans began to re-think the importance of it and other sports after the terrorist attacks. The baseball season ended on the day that American and British forces attacked targets in Afghanistan.
Major League Baseball’s top teams are now competing for the right to play in the World Series. The first team to win four Series games will be the new champion of North American baseball.
Our listener question this week comes from Iran. Behrouz Khashayar asks about the history of electric guitars and the most famous electric guitar player.
No one really knows who first decided to link electricity with a guitar. Most reports say this took place in the late Nineteen-Thirties or early Nineteen-Forties.
However, one man did a great deal to make the electric guitar popular. His name was Les Paul. He was the most popular guitarist in the Nineteen-Fifties. Les Paul also helped invent several different devices used with electric guitars. The most famous of these was a guitar that had a solid wood body. The Gibson Guitar Company later made these guitars.
Listen to Les Paul with his Gibson Guitar play a song he made popular. It is called “Meet Mister Callaghan.”
((CUT ONE: “MEET MISTER CALLAGHAN”))
There are too many great guitarists today to even guess who might be the best. There are great country and western guitarists, blues guitarists, and rock music guitarists.
However, most people would agree that blues artist B-B King is one of the top electric guitar players today. His music is famous around the world. So is his guitar, named Lucille. B-B King’s famous guitar is made by the same Gibson Company that made Les Paul’s electric guitars. We leave you with one of B-B King’s most famous songs, “The Thrill is Gone.”
((CUT TWO: “THE THRILL IS GONE”))
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC—VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
Remember to write us with your questions about American life. We will try to answer them on future programs. Listeners whose questions are chosen will receive a Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.
Send your questions to American Mosaic, Special English, Voice of America, Washington, D.C. two-zero-two-three-seven, USA. Or use a computer to e-mail your question to “Mosaic at V-O-A news dot com”. Please include your name and postal address. This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by George Grow, Paul Thompson and Jerilyn Watson. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer was Caty Weaver.