Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember. And I'm Barbara Klein.
Later this week, Americans will celebrate the nation's Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, colonial leaders approved the final Declaration of Independence for the United States.
This year, the city of New York will also celebrate the opening of part of an important symbol of America that has been closed to the public for the past eight years.
The Statue of Liberty has stood in New York Harbor for more than 100 years. It was a gift from the people of France in 1884. Its full name is "Liberty Enlightening the World".
The Statue of Liberty is 46 meters tall from its base. It is made mostly of copper. Throughout history, images of liberty have been represented as a woman. The statue is sometimes called "Lady Liberty."
The Statue of Liberty's face was created to look like the sculptor's mother. Her right arm holds a torch with a flame high in the air. Her left arm holds a tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence -- July 4, 1776. On her head she wears a crown of seven points. Each is meant to represent the light of freedom as it shines on the seven seas and seven continents of the world. Twenty-five windows in the crown represent gemstones found on Earth. A chain that represents oppression lies broken at her feet.
In 1903, a bronze plaque was placed on the inner wall of the statue's support structure or pedestal. On it are words from the poem "The New Colossus" written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. The plaque represents the statue's message of hope for people seeking freedom. These are some of its best known words:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The United States and France have been friends and allies since the time of the American Revolution. France helped the American colonial armies defeat the British. The war officially ended in 1783. A few years later, the French rebelled against their king.
A French historian and political leader, Edouard-Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye, had the idea for the statue. In 1865, he suggested that the French and the Americans build a monument together to celebrate freedom. Artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi immediately agreed to design it.
In 1875, the French established an organization to raise money for Bartholdi's creation. Two years later, an American group was formed to raise money to pay for a pedestal to support the statue. American architect Richard Morris Hunt was chosen to design this support structure. It would stand 47 meters high.
In France, Bartholdi designed a very small statue. Then he built a series of larger copies. Workers created a wooden form covered with plaster for each part. Then they placed 300 pieces of copper on the forms. This copper skin was less than three centimeters thick.
The statue also needed a structure that could hold its weight of more than 200 tons. French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel created this new technology. Later, he would build the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Eiffel and others worked in Paris to produce a strong iron support system for the statue. The design also needed to permit the statue to move a little in strong winds.
France had wanted to give the statue to the United States on the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence -- July 4, 1876. But technical problems and lack of money delayed the project. France finally presented the statue to the United States in Paris in 1884. But the pedestal, being built in New York, was not finished. Not enough money had been given to complete the project.
The publisher of the New York World newspaper came to the rescue. Joseph Pulitzer used his newspaper to urge Americans to give more money to finish the pedestal. His efforts brought in another 100,000 dollars. And the pedestal was finished.
In France, workers separated the statue into 350 pieces, put them on a ship and sent them across the ocean. The statue arrived in New York in more than 200 wooden boxes. It took workers four months to put together the statue on the new pedestal. President Grover Cleveland officially accepted the statue in a ceremony on October 28, 1886. He said: "We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected."
The Statue of Liberty became a symbol of hope for immigrants coming to the United States by ship from Europe. More than 12 million people passed the statue between 1892 and 1954 on their way to the immigration center on nearby Ellis Island.
More than 40% of Americans have an ancestor who passed through Ellis Island. Through the years, millions of people continued to visit the Statue of Liberty. A trip to New York City did not seem complete without it.
Still, the statue was old and becoming dangerous for visitors. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan asked businessman Lee Iacocca to lead a campaign to repair it. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation raised about 100 million dollars in private money to do the work. The repairs included replacing the torch and covering it with 24 carat gold. On July 4, 1986, New York City celebrated a restored and re-opened Statue of Liberty.
Officials closed the Statue of Liberty following the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001. It remained closed until August, 2004. When it re-opened, visitors could only go onto the statue's pedestal. But the Statue continued to attract visitors—more than three million a year.
This year, on July 4th, visitors once again will be able to climb inside the statue all the way to the top. It is not an easy thing to do. More than 350 steps lead to Lady Liberty's crown. The National Park Service says it will limit the number of climbers to about 200 a day. No more than ten people will be able to go up at one time. At that rate, officials estimate that more than 100,000 people will be able to climb to the top each year.
But if you want to visit the newly opened Statue of Liberty, you must do it within the next two years. That is because the National Park Service plans to close it again for more repairs. Officials say the improvements could take as long as two years. But they say the work will make it possible to safely double the number of visitors permitted inside.
The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island is one of America's national parks. It includes both Liberty Island, where the statue stands, and nearby Ellis Island, the former federal immigration processing center.
Officials at the center examined many of the immigrants who arrived by ship before they were permitted to enter the United States. The main building was restored and opened as a museum in 1990. The museum includes pictures, videos, interactive displays and recordings of immigrants who went through Ellis Island until it was closed in 1954.
One popular exhibit is the Immigrant Wall of Honor outside the main building. It honors all immigrants to the United States no matter where they entered the country. It now lists the names of more than 700,000 people. A new area of wall is being prepared for more names to be added.
An immigration history center on the island contains the ship records of passengers who entered through New York from 1892 through 1924. Those were the years of the great wave of European immigration, before the United States passed restrictive immigration laws.
One recent visitor said the Ellis Island immigration hall feels alive with the stories of people who left their native lands long ago to start a new life in a new country.
This program was written by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Barbara Klein. And I'm Steve Ember. You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.
"The Statue of Liberty" Comprehension Check One
"The Statue of Liberty" Comprehension Check Two:
1. The Statue of Liberty has been in New York harbor for _____ .
2. This statue was a gift from ____ .
3. The broken chain at her feet represents ______ .
4. The Statue of Liberty's skin is made of _______ .
5. The pedestal for the Statue of Liberty was made in _____ .
6. The engineer who designed the support structure also designed The _____ .
7. After necessary repairs, the Statue of Liberty was reopened in _____ .
8. Many immigrants have seen the Statue of Liberty on their way to _______ .
9. Another name for this story could be "_________ ".
10. This article is mainly about _______ .
The Statue of Liberty in Wikipedia.
A tour of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on Youtube:
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I'm Shirley Griffith. And I'm Rich Kleinfeldt with the VOA Special English program, PEOPLE IN AMERICA. Today, we tell the story of actor James Stewart. His movies were loved by people around the world.
James Maitland Stewart was born in the small eastern town of Indiana, Pennsylvania in nineteen-oh-eight. His father had a hardware store that had been owned by the Stewart family since the eighteen fifties.
During high school, Jimmy played football, and acted in plays. He also learned to play the accordion. He took the accordion with him to college at Princeton University, where he joined a musical group called the Triangle Club. Through the club, he met students interested in performing.
Jimmy studied architecture at Princeton. He graduated in nineteen thirty-two. Just before graduation, a friend asked him to join an acting group for the summer. Jimmy agreed because he thought it would be a good way to meet girls.
Jimmy Stewart said later that if his friend had not asked him to join the summer theater group, he would never have been an actor. He would have returned home to help his father in the store. Instead, he met a number of good young actors while performing that summer in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. One was Henry Fonda, who would be a friend throughout his life.
Jimmy Stewart performed in Broadway plays in New York City until the Metro Goldwyn Mayer movie company gave him an acting job. He moved to California in nineteen thirty-five. He acted in more than twenty-four movies over the next six years. He appeared in all kinds of movies: funny ones, sad ones and musical ones. He even sang a song in the movie "Born to Dance. " It is called "Easy to Love":
The movie that made Jimmy Stewart a real Hollywood star was "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. " It was released in nineteen thirty-nine.
“It's a funny thing about men, you know. They all start life being boys. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some of these Senators were boys once. And that's why it seemed like a pretty good idea to me to get boys out of crowded cities and stuffy basements for a couple of months out of the year and build their bodies and minds for a man-sized job, because those boys are gonna be behind these desks some of these days.”
The next year, he won an Academy Award for best actor in "The Philadelphia Story. "
The night he won the Academy Award, his father called him on the telephone from Pennsylvania. "I hear you won some kind of an award," Alex Stewart said. "You had better bring it back here and we'll put it in the window of the store. " Jimmy Stewart's Oscar statue stayed in the window of Stewart's hardware store in Indiana, Pennsylvania for twenty-five years.
Jimmy Stewart was already an established and successful actor when World War Two started in Europe. Early in nineteen forty-one, he tried to join the Army. But he was rejected because he did not weigh enough. So he started eating high fat foods and tried again. This time, he was accepted for military service.
The Army put him in the Air Corps because he already knew how to pilot a plane. In nineteen forty-three, he went to Europe as commander of an Air Force bomber group. He flew more than twenty combat missions, leading as many as one thousand planes at a time over Germany. He returned to the United States in nineteen forty-five as a colonel.
Jimmy Stewart won several military awards for excellent performance under very dangerous conditions. He remained in the Air Force Reserve after the war. In nineteen fifty-nine he was made a general. Each year, he took part in two weeks of active military duty. In nineteen sixty-six, he requested combat duty and took part in a bombing strike over Vietnam.
After World War Two, Jimmy Stewart returned to Hollywood. He found that his new movies were not as popular as his earlier ones had been. One example was "It's a Wonderful Life." It was released in nineteen forty-six. The movie was not a success at first. But over time it has become one of the best loved American movies.
“Can't you understand what's happening here? Don't you see what's happening? Potter isn't selling. Potter's buying! And why? Because we're panicky and he's not. That's why. He's pickin' up some bargain. Now, we can get through this thing all right. We've, we've got to stick together, though. We've got to have faith in each other.”
Jimmy Stewart said in later years that "It's a Wonderful Life" was the movie he liked best. It tells the story of a small town man who feels the world would have been better if he had never lived. An angel comes to him and shows him that this is not true. The movie celebrated values like loyalty and love of family.
Jimmy Stewart decided to play other kinds of parts after what seemed to be the failure of "It's a Wonderful Life. " He was a reporter in "Call Northside Seven Seven Seven" the next year. He was a suspicious head of a school in the murder movie "Rope" in nineteen forty-eight. In the nineteen fifties, he appeared in many western movies such as "Winchester Seventy-Three" and "Broken Arrow. "
Jimmy Stewart enjoyed his greatest popularity in the nineteen fifties. In nineteen fifty-nine, he won awards from the Venice Film Festival, the New York film critics and the Film Daily writers. The awards honored him for his performance in the movie "Anatomy of a Murder. " He was the defense attorney for an army officer accused of murder. He was nominated for an Academy Award for that movie. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for playing a man who has an imaginary rabbit friend, in the movie "Harvey. "
Jimmy Stewart is well known for his work with the famous director of mystery movies, Alfred Hitchcock. These movies included "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "Rear Window" and "Vertigo. " Mr. Stewart also played real heroes in several movies. He was band leader Glenn Miller in "The Glenn Miller Story. " And he was pilot Charles Lindbergh in "The Spirit of Saint Louis. "
Jimmy Stewart appeared in fewer films in the nineteen sixties. He was a senator in the Old West in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” In "The Shootist" he was a doctor in a small town. He also appeared on television. But his two television shows were not successful.
Mr. Stewart began experiencing health problems as he aged. He had heart disease, skin cancer and hearing loss. But he found time to travel. And he published a book of poetry in nineteen eighty-nine. It sold more than three hundred thousand copies.
In nineteen eighty, Jimmy Stewart was honored by the American Film Institute with an award for his lifetime work. Three years later, he received a Kennedy Center Honor for his work. And in nineteen eighty-five, President Ronald Reagan gave him the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
People who knew Jimmy Stewart did not praise him just because he was a good actor and a war hero. They said Jimmy Stewart was one of the nicest people they had ever met. He was a man who lived by the values he was taught as a child in that small town in Pennsylvania.
He went back to Indiana, Pennsylvania, in nineteen eighty-three, for his seventieth birthday. The town held a huge celebration in his honor. President Reagan sent planes to fly over the court house. Parades were held. And a statue of him was placed in the town center.
Jimmy Stewart married Gloria Hatrick McLean in nineteen forty-nine. She had two sons from an earlier marriage. Jimmy raised them as his own. One of the boys was killed during the Vietnam War while serving in the Marine Corps. Jimmy and Gloria also had twin daughters.
Gloria Stewart died in nineteen ninety-four. Friends said Jimmy Stewart was never the same after that. They said he withdrew into his house because he did not know what to do without her. His health got worse. He died on July the second, nineteen ninety-seven.
Jimmy Stewart's daughter Kelly Harcourt spoke at his funeral in Beverly Hills. She reminded mourners of the message of her father's favorite movie, "It's a Wonderful Life:" No man is poor who has friends.
"Here's to our father," she said, "the richest man in town."
This Special English program was written by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Lawan Davis. I'm Rich Kleinfeldt. And I'm Shirley Griffith. Join us again next week at this time for another PEOPLE IN AMERICA program on VOA.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Steve Ember.
And I’m Barbara Klein. This week we visit two special places in the state of New Mexico. They are important in the history of the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest United States.
In eighteen eighty, a scientist was traveling in the Southwest United States. Adolph Bandelier was researching the history and social organization of the American Indians who had lived there for centuries.
When he was in northern New Mexico, men from Cochiti Pueblo took him to a place where their ancestors had lived in Frijoles Canyon. Mister Bandelier saw the ruins of the ancient pueblo or village and said "This is the grandest thing I ever saw."
Today, many visitors to what is now known as Bandelier National Monument feel the same way. They lift their eyes to the tall rock walls that rise hundreds of meters up from the floor of the valley. They climb ladders to enter some of the caves that were homes centuries ago.
They walk along the Frijoles stream lined with green trees that once was the only water supply for the valley. They wonder at the beauty of the area and imagine what it felt like to live there hundreds of years ago.
Bandelier National Monument is near the city of Los Alamos and not far from Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. It is on the Pajarito Plateau. This was formed by two explosions of the Jemez volcano more than one million years ago.
Ash up to three hundred meters thick covered more than six hundred square kilometers around the volcano. Slowly the area became what visitors see today -- a dry land of high flat mesa tops and deep canyons formed through thousands of years by flowing rivers.
People moved into the American Southwest more than ten thousand years ago as the last ice age was ending. These early people hunted large animals for food. They did not build permanent structures to live in because they followed the movement of the animals.
Archeologists have found evidence of these early people in the Bandelier area. The hunters left spear points shaped out of stone that they used as weapons.
The climate of the Southwest became drier and warmer. By seven thousand years ago, many large animals no longer existed. Instead, people hunted smaller animals and gathered wild plants for food.
About two thousand five hundred years ago the first houses appeared on the flat tops of mesas in what is now northern New Mexico. They were pit houses, dug partly underground.
Soon after that more permanent houses were built above ground. These early homes were made of a mixture of wet dirt, wood and rocks. Small family groups lived in these homes. They grew crops of corn, beans and squash.
More people moved into the Pajarito Plateau area about eight hundred years ago. They began living together in larger groups. Many people moved from the mesa tops to the bottom of Frijoles Canyon. They built pueblos, or villages, some of them large. They had a good water supply in Frijoles Creek and fertile land for growing crops.
The traditional stories of American Indians who now live in the pueblos near Bandelier tell of links to the people who lived in Frijoles Canyon long ago. Yet no written record of the area exists until after the Spanish arrived in fifteen forty.
Now you are at the visitor center at Bandelier National Monument. A long path follows along the floor of Frijoles Canyon through an area of wildflowers and trees. From a distance you can see the tall wall of the canyon ahead.
The path leads to the ruins of a large village, named Tyuonyi. It had about four hundred small rooms built around a central open plaza. About one hundred people lived in the pueblo. It is one of several large pueblos whose ruins have been found in Bandelier National Monument.
The people who lived here were ancestors of some of today’s Pueblo Indians. Archeologists think they spent much of their time outside. They used the rooms for sleeping and keeping food. Both men and women grew crops. The women ground corn for bread, cooked and made pottery. The men built new rooms, hunted animals for food, and wove cloth. Children played games and took care of small animals.
The path continues past the ruins of the old pueblo up toward the reddish brown wall of Frijoles Canyon. There are many openings in the rock wall. The canyon walls are made of a soft rock called tuff.
Tuff is made of ash from the explosions of the Jemez volcano. After thousands of years the ash became a soft rock. Through the years rain and wind made cracks and openings in it. The ancestral Pueblo people used stone tools to widen the small natural openings in the face of the canyon walls.
Visitors can climb up wood ladders to see the inside of several of the cave homes. The ceilings are black from smoke. From a cave room you can see far up and down the canyon and imagine what life was like there seven hundred years ago. Farther up the path are more cave homes with ruins of small stone rooms next to the wall of the canyon. Along the walls and in the caves are designs or symbols carved into the rock or painted on it.
You can see many other ruins by following the more than one hundred kilometers of trails in Bandelier. Archeologists know that the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indians lived in the Frijoles Canyon for more than four hundred years.
They also know that by the middle fifteen hundreds people left their villages and cave homes and moved south and east toward the Rio Grande River. No one is sure why. Modern Pueblo Indians say they feel a strong link to the spirit of their ancestors in Bandelier National Monument.
Taos Pueblo is near the city of Taos. It is the farthest north of the nineteen present-day Pueblos in New Mexico. It is very high up -- about two thousand two hundred meters.
Taos Pueblo is considered to be the oldest community in the United States that has always had people living in it. The Tiwa language spoken by the Taos Indians has never been written. However, their spoken history tells of their ancestors living in the area for about one thousand years.
The present Taos Pueblo buildings are made of adobe, a mixture of wet dirt and straw. They were finished almost six hundred years ago. They have many rooms built on top of each other. Centuries ago hundreds of people lived there. Today only about one hundred fifty people live in them all the time. These Taos Indians live in the ancient adobe rooms as their ancestors did centuries ago -- without any running water or electric power for lights.
Almost two thousand Taos Indians live nearby on land the tribe owns. They live in modern houses with electricity and running water. During the year they return to the Pueblo to take part in the many ceremonies and dances that are held in the ancient plazas.
The Taos Pueblo you see today looks almost as it did to the Spanish when they arrived almost five centuries ago. Many first time visitors recognize it because artists have been painting the beauty of Taos Pueblo for years.
Tall green mountains rise behind the Pueblo. Two large brown adobe buildings containing many rooms are on the north and south side of a stream. The water in the stream flows down from Blue Mountain Lake, a sacred place for the Taos Indians. It provides water for drinking and cooking for the people who live in Taos Pueblo today, just as it has for centuries.
Much of Taos Pueblo is not open to visitors. Taos Indians keep their history and ceremonies secret. They expect people to honor their privacy and their traditions. But visitors are welcome in small stores that are around the large open plaza areas. You can buy bread baked outside in traditional circular ovens. And you can buy jewelry, drums made of leather, and wood carvings made by members of the tribe.
The United Nations has named Taos Pueblo a World Heritage Site, one of the most important historical and cultural places in the world. For the Taos Indians, it will always be the center of their cultural and spiritual world.
Our program was written by Marilyn Christiano and produced by Caty Weaver. You can read transcripts of our programs and download audio at voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Steve Ember.
And I’m Barbara Klein. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.