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AMERICAN MOSAIC - February 8, 2002: Songs by the late Peggy Lee/A question about Valentine's Day/Ways animals help people - 2002-02-07


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we:

play some songs recorded by Peggy Lee ...

answer a question about the holiday called Valentine’s Day ...

and report about ways animals help people.

Pet Therapy


Last September, trained dogs provided emotional support for some of the families of victims of the terrorist attacks on the United States. The dogs also helped people who escaped from the World Trade Center in New York City. Such dogs also aid patients in hospitals and nursing centers. Shep O’Neal has more.


Jean Owen of New York City is a dog trainer. She and her two dogs belong to an organization called Therapy Dogs International. On September Eleventh, Mizz Owen and her dogs helped people who had escaped the World Trade Center attack. These people were running through the streets in terror. Many people were covered with dust from explosions. Mizz Owen said they felt much calmer after holding and talking to her dogs.

Mizz Owen is among thousands of people in the United States who own animals trained to help people feel better. Each year these teams of humans and animals give their time during emergencies. They also visit millions of patients in hospitals and long-term care centers for old people.

For many years, American hospitals and nursing homes banned animals. Doctors feared the animals carried germs that would harm patients. Recently, however, scientific studies have shown that playing with a pet animal can improve health. It can decrease high blood pressure. It can lower heart rate. Spending time with a friendly animal also helps ease loneliness and sadness.

More than two-hundred American groups organize animal visits to sick people. One of the largest is the Delta Society of Renton, Washington. Four-thousand-five-hundred human and animal teams belong to Delta. They visit almost one-million people every year in the United States and five other nations. Most of the animals are dogs. However, cats, pet pigs and even a small horse also visit patients.

All these animals are carefully examined before they enter hospitals and nursing homes. They must be friendly. But they must not be too active. After acceptance into the program, animals and their humans attend hours of training.

Many hospitals and nursing home officials praise these animal visits. They say seeing an animal helps patients forget their troubles. They say these visits make the patients feel more like they are at home.

Valentine’s Day


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Nguyen Thanh Duc asks about the holiday called Valentine’s Day.

Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day each year on February fourteenth. It is a holiday for lovers.

Valentine’s Day is a good day for a man to ask his girlfriend to marry him. It is also a good day for couples to get married. But most Americans do not go that far to celebrate the day named for Saint Valentine. He was an early Christian churchman who reportedly helped young lovers.

Valentine was executed for his Christian beliefs on February fourteenth, more than one-thousand-seven-hundred years ago. But the day that has his name is even older than that.

The ancient Romans celebrated a holiday for lovers more than two-thousand years ago. As part of the celebration, girls wrote their names on pieces of paper and put them in a large container. Boys reached into the container and pulled out the name of a girl. That girl became his girlfriend or sweetheart for a year.

Lovers still put their names on pieces of paper. They send each other Valentine’s Day cards that tell of their love. Sometimes they also send other gifts too, like jewelry or flowers or candy.

Americans usually send cards through the mail system or in a computer message. But there is another way many Americans send messages of love on Valentine’s Day. They pay to have them printed in a newspaper.

Some of the messages are simple and short: “Debby, I love you very much. From Bob.” Others say more: “Dan, roses are red, violets are blue, I hope you love me as much as I love you. Forever, Mary.”

There is only one problem in sending a Valentine’s Day message this way. It will only reach the one you love if he or she reads the Valentine Day messages in the newspaper that day.

Peggy Lee


American singer Peggy Lee died last month of a heart attack. She was eighty-one years old. Critics called her one of the most popular singers of the Twentieth Century. Steve Ember tells us about her.


Peggy Lee was named Norma Egstrom when she was born in Jamestown, North Dakota. She said she always wanted to become a singer. Peggy Lee sang with Benny Goodman’s band in the Nineteen-Forties. In the Nineteen-Fifties, she appeared in several movies. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in the film “Pete Kelly’s Blues.” But she wanted to sing more than she wanted to act.

Peggy Lee wrote many of the songs she performed. In Nineteen-Fifty-Two, she wrote songs for the popular Walt Disney cartoon movie about dogs called “Lady and the Tramp.” She sang some of the songs in the movie too, including this one, “He’s a Tramp.”


Peggy Lee recorded songs written by other songwriters, too. In Nineteen-Sixty-Nine, she won a Grammy Award for her recording of this song written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. It asks the question “Is That All There Is?”


Peggy Lee made hundreds of recordings and fifty record albums. Yet she will probably be remembered best for one song that she recorded in the Nineteen-Fifties. We leave you now with Peggy Lee singing that song, “Fever.”

((CUT 3: FEVER))


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.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Jerilyn Watson. Our studio engineer was Kevin Raiman. And our producer was Paul Thompson.