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AMERICAN MOSAIC - November 15, 2002: Rap Loses a Popular Artist / Question About the John Kennedy Assassination / 20th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial - 2002-11-14

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


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today:

We tell about a rap musician who was killed recently ...

Answer a listener’s question about the assassination of President John Kennedy ...

And report about the anniversary of an American memorial.

Vietnam Memorial Anniversary


On Monday, November eleventh, a ceremony was held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D-C. It observed the twentieth anniversary of what has become known as “The Wall.” The memorial recognizes and honors the American men and women who served in the Republic of Vietnam. Shep O’Neal tells us more.


The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is not like most memorials that honor soldiers. It has no swords, no horses, no statues of famous generals. It is a very simple design. It is two black stone walls that are built into the ground. The two walls form a letter “V” with the arms of the letter spread wide. The gold names of fifty-eight-thousand-two-hundred-twenty-nine soldiers are cut into the black stone. These are the names of the soldiers who died or who are still missing as a result of their service in Vietnam.

The Wall has the power to create strong feelings. The shiny black stone acts like a mirror. This mirror effect seems to draw in visitors so that they too are part of the Wall. This is especially emotional for those visitors who served in Vietnam and for the family members of those killed there.

A former soldier named Jan Scruggs thought of the idea for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He formed an organization to raise the money to build the project.

A competition was held to choose the design of the memorial. The judges considered more than one-thousand designs. They chose the design of a twenty-one-year-old Yale University student named Maya Ying Lin. Mizz Lin’s family members had come to the United States from China. Maya Lin’s design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial caused great debate. Many people criticized her design. They said it was too simple and did not show the heroic efforts of the soldiers. Some said the competition should be held over. But it was not.

Today, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial designed by Maya Lin is the most visited memorial in the nation’s capital. The National Park Service is responsible for it. Officials say almost four-million people visit the Wall each year.

Mister Scruggs says the Wall makes people feel the price of war. It makes them understand that the price has to be paid in human lives. The message of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial can be understood by all --veterans, families of veterans, international visitors, young people and those who will visit the memorial for many, many years to come.

Kennedy Murder


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Iran. Babak Roshani asks about the murder of America’s thirty-fifth President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

That is a good question to answer one week before the thirty-ninth anniversary of the assassination. President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas on November twenty-second, nineteen-sixty-three.

The news of the killing shocked millions of Americans. Almost all older Americans remember what they were doing when they heard the news.

John F. Kennedy was elected president in nineteen-sixty. He was the youngest man ever elected president. He went to Texas in an effort to end a split in the state’s Democratic Party.

Large, friendly crowds greeted the President’s open car as it drove through the streets of Dallas. Mister Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline, was sitting next to him. Suddenly, there were gunshots. President Kennedy was wounded in the neck and head. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he soon died.

Television and radio reported the news of the shooting to a shocked world. Vice President Lyndon Johnson met Missus Kennedy at the airport. Mister Johnson was sworn in as President on the presidential airplane.

Several people who saw the shooting said the shots that killed Mister Kennedy came from a building where schoolbooks were stored. Police raced to the Dallas Schoolbook Depository, but could not find the killer. Then they began searching for an employee of the building who had left the area a few minutes after the shooting. Police arrested the employee, Lee Harvey Oswald, a short time later.

Oswald is said to have shot and killed a policeman while resisting arrest. He was charged with the murders of President Kennedy and the policeman. Police questioned Oswald for two days, but he denied the charges. The murder weapon was found hidden in the building where Oswald worked. He owned the gun and his handprints were found on the weapon.

Two days later, police decided to move Oswald from the Dallas city jail to another jail. As he was being moved, a man named Jack Ruby shot and killed the suspect. Ruby died in prison three years later. President Johnson appointed a special committee to investigate the murder of President Kennedy. The committee’s final report found that Oswald had acted alone. However, many people did not agree with that finding. Many still do not.

Jam Master Jay


Rap music lost a popular artist last month. Jam Master Jay of the rap group Run-D-M-C was shot and killed at a recording studio in New York City. Mary Tillotson tells about the man and his music.


Jam Master Jay’s real name was Jason Mizell. He served as D-J in the rap group Run-D-M-C. The D-J uses records in a special way to provide different sounds for the rappers. He finds drumbeats and other sounds he wants to use on a record. Then he uses his hands to move the record back and forth at different speeds under the needle of the record player. This creates different noises. The process is called scratching. Listen to Jam Master Jay scratch on the Run-D-M-C song, “Down with the King.”


Run-D-M-C formed in nineteen-eighty-two. Jam Master Jay helped the group become one of the most important hip-hop groups ever. Its music was popular with many different kinds of people. Run-D-M-C also mixed rap and rock music for the first time. Here is Run-D-M-C and the rock group Aerosmith performing the Aerosmith song “Walk This Way.”

(CUT TWO-Walk This Way)

Jam Master Jay was opposed to messages of violence in rap music. He said such violence represented everything rap was against. Jam Master Jay was thirty-seven years old when he died. The two surviving members of Run-D-M-C said they will no longer perform in honor of their former D-J.

We leave you now with the Run-D-M-C song, “Jam Master Jay.”



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 George Grow, Paul Thompson and Caty Weaver. Our studio engineer was Glen Matlock. And our producer was Paul Thompson.