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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Watergate, Nixon, 'Deep Throat': What Was That All About?

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(MUSIC)

Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

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

A first! We answer three listener questions in one show…

Who was President Roosevelt?

What was Watergate?

And, when is Father's Day? Also, some songs to celebrate it!

(MUSIC)

Franklin Roosevelt

Our first question comes from a listener in Vietnam. Phung Thehai asks for information about former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, especially during World War Two. Steve Ember tells about F.D.R., one of the most influential American leaders.

From left: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

STEVE EMBER: Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president four times. He served more than twelve years, longer than any other president.

He led the nation through its worst economic crisis, the period known as the Great Depression. He also led the nation though one of its worst wars. And, he dealt with a personal crisis. He lost the use of his legs from the disease polio. He became known by the first letters of his full name - F.D.R.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born in eighteen eighty-two to a rich and important family in New York State. He married Eleanor Roosevelt in nineteen-oh-five. They were distant relations. They had six children.

Mister Roosevelt was a member of the Democratic Party. He entered politics in nineteen ten as a member of the New York state legislature.

In nineteen thirty-two he was elected president. The United States was in a severe economic depression. Roosevelt promised to put Americans back to work. He created a program of reform that included job creation. It was called "The New Deal."

But, in the late nineteen thirties, another crisis was growing more serious every day. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party in Germany threatened central Europe. Japanese forces carried out new aggression in Asia and the Pacific area.

World War Two began in nineteen thirty-nine when Germany invaded Poland. Americans hoped Britain, France and other allies would defeat Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Yet Congress passed a law declaring the United States would remain neutral.

But on December seventh, nineteen forty-one, Japanese planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. F.D.R. was serving his third term as president. The United States was forced to enter the war. President Roosevelt worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the war effort.

F.D.R. was re-elected president in November, nineteen forty-four. But he did not live to see the victory of the Allies and the end of World War Two. He died a few months later, on April twelfth, nineteen forty-five.You can hear more about Franklin Delano Roosevelt's life and work on the Special English program People in America on Sunday.

Watergate

Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon

HOST: Another question this week involves historical events that have been in the news recently. Abdullah El-Fakhri of Libya wants to know about Watergate. Faith Lapidus tells us more.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The Watergate scandal is the name given to illegal activities designed to help President Nixon win re-election in nineteen seventy-two. These included stealing, violating campaign finance laws and attempting to use government agencies to harm political opponents. They also included trying to keep these actions secret.

About forty people were charged with crimes linked to Watergate. Some were high-level government officials. Most were found guilty in court or admitted their guilt.

President Richard Nixon and his supporters were members of the Republican Party. These activities became known as Watergate because the first illegal act took place in the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. Police arrested five men for breaking into the national offices of the Democratic Party on June seventeenth, nineteen seventy-two.

One of the men was the security chief of the Committee to Re-Elect the President. A spokesman for President Nixon denied that anyone who worked for the president was involved. But two reporters found evidence that presidential assistants helped pay for sabotage and spying against candidates for the nineteen seventy-two Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Other evidence was discovered later. It included a voice recording that proved President Nixon ordered his assistants to hide evidence of illegal activities by his re-election committee. Congress began steps to remove the president from office for hiding evidence and using presidential power illegally. President Nixon resigned on August ninth, nineteen seventy-four.

Bob Woodward, right, and Carl Bernstein in 1973.
Bob Woodward, right, and Carl Bernstein in 1973.

Two young reporters from the Washington Post newspaper started the investigation that led to the president's resignation. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein became famous for these reports about Watergate. They wrote a book about their investigation called "All The President's Men".

In the book, they told about a secret source who provided them with important information. They called him "Deep Throat." And they promised to keep his name a secret until after he died.

Mark Felt
Mark Felt

Three weeks ago, a man named Mark Felt told the world that he was "Deep Throat." In the early nineteen seventies, Mister Felt was the assistant chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He said that he secretly helped the reporters because other high level government officials were trying to hide information about Watergate, not bring it out into the open.

Father's Day

Our final question today comes from a student in China. Si Zheng heard our program about Mother's Day in May. He wants to know when Father's Day began and how we celebrate it in the United States.

Americans honor their fathers on the third Sunday in June. So Father's day is Sunday. Many children will give their fathers gifts they made at school. Others might help prepare a special meal. Some fathers may even receive a gift of clothes, tools, electronic devices or something else purchased at a store.

Two years ago, the famous American singer Luther Vandross remembered his dad with a song. Here is "Dance With My Father."

(MUSIC)

A woman named Sonora Dodd came up with the idea of Father's Day in nineteen-oh-nine. She was listening to a speech in church about Mother's Day. Missus Dodd thought about her father. He had fought in the American Civil War. Later, he had raised six children after his wife died during childbirth.

Sonora Dodd wanted a special day to honor men like her father. He was born in June. So she decided to hold the first Father's Day celebration in June of nineteen ten in Spokane, Washington.

Sonora Dodd loved her father. Listen now to a song by Paul Simon that celebrates such a relationship. Here is "Father and Daughter."

(MUSIC)

In nineteen twenty-four President Calvin Coolidge gave his support to the idea of Father's Day as an official holiday. But Congress did not approve it until almost fifty years later. President Nixon signed a law to establish Father's Day in nineteen seventy-two.

I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.

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