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AMERICAN MOSAIC - March 14, 2003: Remembering 'Mr. Rogers' / Country Music ... by a Russian Group / Listener Question About St. Patrick's Day - 2003-03-13



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


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today,

We play music by the group Bering Strait ...

Answer a listener’s question about Saint Patrick’s Day ...

And remember a well-loved American television performer.

Mr. Rogers


That is the voice of Fred Rogers. He was a very special friend to American children. He died of cancer last month at the age of seventy-four. Shep O’Neal tells us about him.


Fred Rogers’ program was broadcast on America’s public television stations for thirty years. It was called “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Fred Rogers stopped filming new programs two years ago. But repeats of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” can still be seen in many parts of the country.

The program was made especially for children between the ages of two and five. Fred Rogers talked very slowly and explained ideas very carefully. He will be best remembered for the gentle ideas he taught children. Fred Rogers told children to be kind. He told them to be open to new ideas. He explained that they should like themselves because they were special and important. He told them to always use their imaginations. He told them it was important to always help others. He helped them to understand their feelings.

Fred Rogers worked in television for almost fifty years. He always believed that television could be used to improve the lives of children. Fred Rogers once said he hoped his program would make children want to turn off the television and go play games or read books. He wanted the program to help them form new ideas.

The subjects discussed on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” were important to children. One program was about going to school for the first time. Another was about different musical instruments. Other programs showed how much fun it is to go to the circus or to see animals at the zoo. Many programs showed children how important it is to learn new things.

Fred Rogers appeared in about one-thousand “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” programs. Critics say Mister Rogers will be remembered as the special friend of children. They say he was kind and gentle but also showed children a quiet strength. They say that his programs are still popular on television because the children watching always know that Mister Rogers is a person they can trust.

St. Patrick's Day


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Kano State, Nigeria. Ibrahim Umar Abdulkarim asks about the Saint Patrick’s Day holiday.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March seventeenth. It is a religious holiday in Ireland. It is the day when the Irish people honor the man who brought the Roman Catholic religion to Ireland more than one-thousand years ago.

Saint Patrick’s Day is not an official holiday in the United States. But a lot of people celebrate it anyway. They show the traditional Irish color, green. People wear green clothes. Some put green color in their hair or on their faces. Some public eating places serve beer that is colored green. The city of Chicago, Illinois even puts green color in its river. Many Americans eat the traditional Irish food, corned beef and cabbage. And they enjoy parties and parades.

Saint Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in the United States about two-hundred-fifty years ago in the northeastern city of Boston, Massachusetts. Those celebrations involved only people whose families had come to the United States from Ireland.

Today, Americans who are not Irish also celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Some cities have Saint Patrick’s Day parades. An old story says this tradition began in New York City in seventeen-sixty-two. Some members of the New York State military guard had been born in Ireland. They decided to march to breakfast on Saint Patrick’s Day. These parades spread throughout the country as more people from Ireland came to live in the United States.

Many Irish immigrants settled in big cities. Many became firefighters, police officers and city leaders. They were able to stop work in the city for a day so they could hold a parade on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Today, New York City’s parade is the biggest in the world. About one-hundred-fifty-thousand people march for eight kilometers along Fifth Avenue. Thousands of others gather on the street to watch the parade. Many of these Americans are not really Irish. But they like to say that everyone is a little bit Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Bering Strait


American music is very popular around the world. In almost any country you can find people who love jazz, blues, hip-hop, rap, blue grass and country and western music. Phoebe Zimmermann tells how one kind of American music affected six young people from Russia.


The two women and four men are members of the band called Bering Strait. They were all born in the city of Obninsk, Russia.

Natasha Borzilova is the band’s lead singer. She says the group members began playing country and western songs when they were children because they loved that kind of music. They became very good musicians. Listen to their recording of “Jagged Edge of a Broken Heart.”


In the early nineteen-nineties, the members of Bering Strait visited Nashville, Tennesee, the center of American country and western music. They worked on their music for five years in the United States before a major record company wanted to record them. They finally released their first album last year.

One song on that album was recently nominated for a Grammy Award for best country instrumental performance. The song is “Bearing Straight.”


Natasha Borzilova says living and working in the United States has been difficult for the band members. They miss their families in Russia. And at times she would just like to tell everyone in America to speak Russian.

Sometimes the band does just that during live performances. They sing a Russian folk song to the rhythm of American blue grass country music. We leave you now with that song, “Porushka-Paranya.”



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. 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 gift.

Send your questions to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C. two-zero-two-three-seven, USA. Our e-mail address is Please include your name and mailing address.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. And our producer was Lawan Davis.