Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today ...
We play some patriotic songs ...
answer a question about Thanksgiving ...
and report about the Emmy Awards for the best American television programs.
The Emmy Awards & "The West Wing"
The American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences postponed its yearly Emmy Award ceremony two times this year because of the terrorist attacks in September. It finally presented the awards last week. The Emmys honor the best American television programs. Shirley Griffith tells us about the awards.
A program called “The West Wing” won the Emmy Award for best drama series. It also won the best drama Emmy last year.
“The West Wing” is about people who work in the White House for the President of the United States. The people in the show are not real. But the issues they discuss are real. For example, in the show broadcast last week, the President is discussing the gun control issue with his Vice President. Martin Sheen plays the President. Tim Mathieson is the Vice President.
((TAPE CUT 1:
VP: You want to send me to Texas?
P: It’s what Texans do...you know, a decade ago we passed a few national gun control laws, then the gun control lobby turned its back on Congress and started focusing on the states. The N-R-A systematically worked the legislatures to weaken conceal and carry laws, the effect of which is to increase gun sales and pad its own membership.
VP: Well, I don’t necessarily agree with that...
P (interrupts): The National Conference of State Legislatures is meeting next weekend at the Convention Center in San Antonio.
VP: You want me to go to Texas and speak for you.
VP: ‘Cause that’s what Texans do.
P: It’s also what Vice Presidents do. ))
“The West Wing” won several other Emmy awards this year. These included the best supporting actor award to Bradley Whitford for playing a presidential adviser. Actress Allison Janney won the best supporting actress Emmy for playing the President’s press secretary.
Mizz Janney said she felt proud to be part of a show that celebrates the process of freedom that makes the United States great. The Academy also honored people from the television industry who died in the terrorist attacks. One of these was Emmy winner David Angell, who wrote for the popular comedy shows “Frasier” and “Cheers”.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from listeners in Mali and Brazil. Mahamadou Modibo Kante and Renato Francisco Amaral ask about the American holiday called Thanksgiving.
Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving next Thursday, November twenty-second. It is a day for giving thanks to God, families and friends for all the good things that have happened in the past year.
Settlers in America began observing days of thanks hundreds of years ago. But most Americans link the first Thanksgiving Day to a group of people called Pilgrims. They arrived in what is now the northeastern United States in Sixteen-Twenty. Soon, more than half had died of disease or lack of food.
Those who survived held a day of thanksgiving in the autumn of Sixteen-Twenty-One. They thanked God for protecting them. They also thanked the Native American Indians. The Indians helped save the Pilgrims by showing them how to fish and plant crops. The Pilgrims feasted for three days. About ninety Indians joined the celebration. They ate deer, ducks, geese, and turkeys.
The modern holiday of Thanksgiving is the result of the efforts of Sarah Hale. She was a writer and editor in the Nineteenth Century. She believed all Americans should give thanks on the same day.
Sarah Hale worked for many years to establish a national holiday for this purpose. She published articles and gave speeches. She wrote letters to state governments and presidents. Finally, President Abraham Lincoln approved her idea. In Eighteen-Sixty-Three, he declared the last Thursday in November as a national holiday of Thanksgiving. Later, Congress declared the holiday would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
Today, friends and family members gather together for Thanksgiving. They may attend religious services ... take part in a parade ... watch sports events on television. And almost everyone does what the Pilgrims did. They have a feast. On Thanksgiving, Americans eat some of the same foods the Pilgrims ate — turkey, sweet potatoes, squash, corn, cranberries and pumpkin pie.
Patriotic Songs CD
Americans have always liked songs about their country. Since the terrorist attacks, they are singing them more often than ever. A new record album includes many of these songs. Money earned from the sale of the album goes to a fund for the victims of the World Trade Center attack. Jim Tedder has more.
The name of the album is “God Bless America.” That is also the name of the first song on the album. The song “God Bless America” has become extremely popular since the terrorist attacks. It was written by Irving Berlin in Nineteen-Eighteen. Irving Berlin was born in Russia. The song expresses his love and thanks to the United States for giving him a chance to succeed. Celine Dion sings it here.
((CUT 1: GOD BLESS AMERICA))
Another song on the album is “America the Beautiful.” Katherine Lee Bates wrote the words to the song in Eighteen-Ninety-Three. Samuel Ward Howe wrote the music. Here Frank Sinatra sings it.
((CUT 2: AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL))
No record about patriotic songs would be complete without the official song of the United States, “The Star- Spangled Banner.” Francis Scott Key wrote the words in Eighteen-Fourteen, following a battle during the War of Eighteen-Twelve. Later, music was added to his poem. We leave you now with the National Anthem of the United States, performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
((CUT 3: THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER))
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 Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer was Paul Thompson.