AMERICAN MOSAIC -May 3, 2002: George Mason / Music from The Band / Question About the
International Space Station
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC
VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we:
Play some music from The Band ..
Answer a question about the International Space Station ..
And learn about a little known hero of American history.
Washington, D.C., has many memorials. Some honor former presidents. Others honor Americans who fought in
Recently, a crowd gathered near the Potomac River for the opening of the George Mason National Memorial. It
is in a garden, near colorful flowers and a water fountain. A metal statue of a man sits on a seat. A few of his
most famous writings are on a nearby stone wall. George Mason was responsible for the first American bill of
rights. Shep O’Neal tells us about him.
George Mason held few public offices. Yet his ideas influenced both the Declaration of Independence and the
Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution. Later, his ideas were used in the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Rights.
George Mason was born in the colony of Virginia in Seventeen-Twenty-Five. He
studied law and supervised his family’s property. Mister Mason became active
in his community. He was famous for opposing the British colonial government.
However, he refused public office many times. He enjoyed being a private
Finally, George Mason became a delegate to the Virginia Convention in
Seventeen-Seventy-Five. The following year, he was chosen to write Virginia’
Declaration of Rights. It became his most important work.
The Virginia Declaration of Rights has been called the first American bill of
rights. The declaration called for freedom of the press. It called for an official policy that permitted different
religions. It also declared an individual’s right to a fair and speedy trial.
A few years later, George Mason took part in creating the United States Constitution. However, he strongly
disagreed with parts of it. He objected to a compromise that permitted the importation of slaves to continue until
Eighteen-Oh-Eight. Mister Mason owned slaves, but he was one of the few southern state delegates to oppose
slavery. He believed that slaves should be educated and later freed. George Mason had other concerns about the
proposed Constitution. He wanted a bill of rights to protect individuals against possible interference by the
George Mason refused to sign the Constitution. And he opposed the document when it was offered to the states
for approval. But he lived to see the Bill of Rights added to the Constitution in Seventeen-Ninety-One. That was
one year before George Mason died.
International Space Station
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Laos. Bouahom Damrong asks about the International Space
Some scientists have called the International Space Station the largest and most
important international scientific project in history. The Space Station will be a
permanent laboratory to test new industrial materials and communications devices
and to carry out medical research. The space station will be used for such research
because gravity, temperature and pressure can be controlled and changed in ways
impossible to do in laboratories on Earth.
The building of the International Space Station began in Nineteen-Ninety-Eight with
the launch of the Zarya spacecraft from Russia. Project planners say it will take
about forty-four launches of Russian rockets and American space shuttles to complete the structure. They hope to
have the work done by Two-Thousand-Four.
The complete space station will be one-hundred-nine meters across and eighty-eight meters long. It will weigh
more than four-hundred-fifty-thousand kilograms.
Large devices that collect sunlight and change it to electric power will extend over an area of almost one -half
hectare. The space station will provide working and living areas for a crew of up to seven astronauts and
scientists. These areas will be about the same size as two huge passenger planes.
The International Space Station is a joint effort of the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, Brazil and eleven
members of the European Space Agency. Many of these countries build parts for the space station. Each piece is
then taken into space and linked together by astronauts.
American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts have been living on the space station for more than a year. They
have already completed several scientific experiments. The first crew of three to live on the space station left
Earth in October, Two-Thousand and spent more than one-hundred-thirty-eight days there. The fifth group is
expected to arrive in June and leave in October.
The United States space agency’s Kennedy Space Center Internet Web site provides much more information
about the International Space Station. The Internet address is www.ksc.nasa.gov.
A famous rock and roll group called the Band was popular in the nineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies. It is
popular again because of a movie and an album called “The Last Waltz.
Mary Tillotson tells us more.
The members of the group first started performing with singer Ronnie Hawkins as the Hawks. Then Bob Dylan
asked them to perform with him. In Nineteen-Sixty-Eight, they began performing on their own as the Band. The
Band’s songs are like many traditional American songs --they tell stories. This song is about the Civil War
between the northern and southern states in the Eighteen-Sixties. It is called “The Night They Drove Old Dixie
((CUT ONE: THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN))
The Band decided to stop performing in Nineteen-Seventy-Six. The members held one last concert in San
Francisco, California. They asked several famous artists to perform with them.
Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Muddy Waters appeared
with them. A famous Hollywood movie director, Martin Scorsese, filmed the
Some critics have called “The Last Waltz”
one of the greatest rock and roll
movies of all time. It is now being shown again in several American cities. A new
album of music from the concert also has been released. Here is one of the songs
from the movie and the album. It is called “Rag Mama Rag.
((CUT TWO: RAG MAMA RAG))
Experts say the Band’s music influenced many other performers. They say its music still
sounds powerful and new, more than twenty -five years later. We leave you now with the
Band performing “It Makes No Difference.
((CUT THREE: IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE))
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for
VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Shelley Gollust, George Grow and Nancy Steinbach. Our
studio engineer was Curtis Bynum. And our producer was Paul Thompson.
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