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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Beyond History Books: New Museum Tells Lincoln's Story

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(MUSIC)

HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

Lincoln look-alikes and their wives examine their cell phones before dedication ceremonies April 19 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
Lincoln look-alikes and their wives examine their cell phones before dedication ceremonies April 19 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month …

A question from listeners about Abraham Lincoln ...

And a report about Earth Day.

Earth Day and Goldman Prizes

Happy birthday, Earth Day! This April twenty-second is the thirty-fifth anniversary of Earth Day. Former United States Senator Gaylord Nelson started the observance.

Earth Day is a time for individuals to get involved in the health of the planet.

One person might decide to clean up a local park. Another might plant a tree. Someone else might organize a community environmental project. These kinds of activities are known as grassroots efforts.

Each year around Earth Day, an organization in California honors grassroots environmental activists around the world. Gwen Outen reports on this year's winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

GWEN OUTEN: The winner from Europe is Stephanie Danielle Roth, a citizen of both France and Switzerland. Miz Roth is being honored for leading an international effort to stop the building of a gold and silver mine in Romania. She has organized large demonstrations. She has also created a coalition of non-governmental organizations, scientists and others to take part in the fight.

The winner of the Goldman Prize for South and Central America is Father Jose Andres Tamayo Cortez. The Roman Catholic clergyman has organized protests in an effort to save trees from illegal destruction in central Honduras.

The Goldman winner from North America is also active against illegal logging. Isidro Baldenegro Lopez of Mexico organized protests to save old growth forests in the Sierra Madre Mountains. He was jailed for fifteen months. But the Goldman Foundation says he continues to work for environmental justice and land rights for the Tarahumara people.

Corneille Ewango from the Democratic Republic of Congo is the Goldman Prize winner for Africa. Mister Ewango is a plant scientist. He risked his own safety to protect animals and plants in a rainforest during years of civil war. He is now a graduate student in the United States.

The Goldman winner for island nations is Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of Haiti. He has taught environmentally responsible farming methods for thirty years. The Goldman Foundation says he and his students have planted more than twenty million trees in Haiti.

Finally, the Goldman Environmental Prize for Asia was awarded to a biologist from Kazakhstan. Kaisha Atakhanova led a successful fight against legislation to permit the import and storage of radioactive waste in her country.

Rhonda and Richard Goldman established the prize in nineteen ninety. They wanted to honor individuals who work to protect the environment. Each winner receives one hundred twenty-five thousand dollars.

Abraham Lincoln

HOST: Time for our weekly question from listeners. Ezekiel Adeniran and Martins Ojoiso in Nigeria both ask about the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

Before we talk about his life, we want to tell you about the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois. The museum officially opened this week with a ceremony attended by President Bush and his wife, Laura. There is also an Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library which opened last October.

Abraham Lincoln was born in eighteen oh nine in Kentucky, but he grew up in Illinois. His family was poor and had no education. But Abraham Lincoln taught himself what he needed to know. He became a lawyer. He served in the Illinois state legislature and in the United States Congress. He was elected president in eighteen sixty.

President Lincoln led the United States during the Civil War. He sent Northern forces to battle the slave-holding Southern states to keep them from leaving the Union. Lincoln freed the slaves and helped keep the nation together.

In the end, it cost him his life. On April fourteenth, eighty sixty-five, a Southern sympathizer shot Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theater in Washington. It happened five days after the South surrendered and the Civil War ended.

Abraham Lincoln wrote some of the most important words in American history. In eighteen sixty-three, he gave what became his best known speech. The Union army had won a major battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Ceremonies were held there to honor the dead at a burial place on the battlefield.

President Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg for only about two minutes. Written copies of his speech differ; without a recording, no one can be sure exactly what he said. But his speech has never been forgotten. Here is Harry Monroe with the last few lines of the version that can be found on a wall of Lincoln Memorial:

HARRY MONROE: It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Jazz Appreciation Month

April is "Jazz Appreciation Month" in the United States. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.. began this observance. The aim is to get everyone to take part in jazz in some way: study it, play it or just listen to it. Other countries are also celebrating jazz this month. These include Argentina, Britain, Canada, Germany Japan and Sweden. Shep O'Neal has our report.

SHEP O'NEAL: Jazz is often called America's greatest gift to the arts. It came to life full of the emotions of a people who first arrived as slaves from Africa.

Here is a famous early jazz recording, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band playing "Chimes Blues."

(MUSIC)

Today, jazz musicians play all kinds of music. It can sound like swing or bebop, rock and roll or country-western. Or it can sound traditional.

One of the most popular jazz singers in the world today is Cassandra Wilson. Here she is with the Bob Dylan song, "Lay Lady Lay."

(MUSIC)

Jazz performers sometimes create new music as they play. They add their own notes to already existing music.

The same song can sound fresh and new each time a jazz musician plays it. Miles Davis was one great jazz musician known for his improvisation. We leave you with the Miles Davis Sextet playing "So What."

(MUSIC)

HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

Our show was written by Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.

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