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US Congress Gets First Member From Vietnam, Anh 'Joseph' Cao


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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. This week:

We listen to new music from the Killers …

Answer a listener question about the famous book and movie "Gone With the Wind" ...

And, tell about America's first Vietnamese-born congressman.

Congressman Cao

Last month, voters in the second Congressional District in New Orleans, Louisiana, made a historic choice. They elected Anh "Joseph" Cao a Vietnamese-American Republican party member, as their representative. It is the first time in over one hundred years that voters in this area of New Orleans elected a non-Democratic Party lawmaker. And, Anh Cao is the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to the United States Congress. He was sworn into office this week. Bob Doughty has more.

Anh Cao went through difficult times to get to where he is now. He was born in Saigon in nineteen sixty-seven during the war in Vietnam. His father was a South Vietnamese army officer.

In nineteen seventy-five, North Vietnamese troops took control of Saigon. Anh Cao and a brother and sister were moved to the United States. He was separated from his family for many years. His mother and five other brothers and sisters remained in Vietnam.

Anh Cao lived with his uncle in Indiana, then later moved to Houston, Texas.

When he was nine years old, he received a letter from his father who was in a prison camp in Vietnam.

ANH CAO: In the letter he told me, he said, 'Son, I'm sorry I cannot be with you. There are three things I want you to do: one, you have to study hard, two, you have to work hard, and three, you have to contribute to your community and country.' That pretty much stuck with me since I was nine.

Anh "Joseph" Cao listened to this advice. He received a university degree in physics. In nineteen ninety he joined the Society of Jesus with the aim of becoming a religious worker. Mr. Cao worked with the Jesuits in poor areas of Mexico and China. He also received a master's degree in philosophy. But after six years he decided not to become a priest.

He decided to work for social justice in a non-religious way. So, he received a law degree and started working as a lawyer in New Orleans. He also began volunteering in his community.

After Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of his city in two thousand five, Mr. Cao became more involved in politics. He fought for the rights of the Vietnamese community.

He joined the Republican Party and became active on local and state political committees. He decided to compete against his local representative in Congress, William Jefferson, who had been in office since nineteen ninety-one. Mr. Jefferson's reelection campaign was not helped by federal corruption charges against him.

ANH CAO: You know, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whether you are an African American or a Caucasian or an Asian, we all want a good health care system, we all want a good educational system for our children, we all want hurricane protection.

Mr. Cao won the election. That night he said that never in his life did he think he could be a congressman. He said that the American dream is alive and well.

"Gone with the Wind"

Our listener question this week comes from China. Zhang Li wants to know more about the book and movie "Gone with the Wind."

Margaret Mitchell did not plan to become famous around the world for the book she wrote. She had been working as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal in the state of Georgia. But she resigned from her job in nineteen twenty-six. She spent many months in bed recovering from injuries suffered when she fell from a horse years earlier. Her husband brought her books to read from the library. He later suggested that she write her own book and bought her paper and a typewriter.

Ms. Mitchell decided to write about what she knew. Her book was based on the stories her family and Civil War veterans told her about the South during the eighteen sixties. Ms. Mitchell was very secretive about writing the book.

The one thousand page book is about a beautiful and rebellious young woman named Pansy O'Hara who lived in Georgia during the Civil War. The publisher suggested Ms. Mitchell change the heroine's name to Scarlett. "Gone with the Wind" was published in nineteen thirty-six. The next year, Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel.

The book became a great success around the world. It is much more than a love story between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. It describes the tragic period in American history when American soldiers killed each other in huge numbers. It describes how people bravely rebuilt their lives after such destruction. And it captures the spirit of the Old South and a way of life that forever disappeared after the war.

The producer David O. Selznick bought the rights to "Gone with the Wind." He spent more than three years working on the movie.

He and his team considered more than one thousand actresses to find the perfect Scarlett O'Hara, including many famous American actresses. By December of nineteen thirty-eight, Selznick was already filming the movie, although he did not have an actress for the main role. Then he met the British actress Vivien Leigh. She won the role of Scarlett O'Hara. At first, Clark Gable did not want the role of Rhett Butler, but later agreed to play the part.

"Gone with the Wind" won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture of nineteen thirty-nine and Best Actress for Vivien Leigh.

The Killers

The Killers are a band that plays music influenced by rock from the nineteen eighties. The band's third album "Day & Age" is filled with energetic songs that often have unusual words. The band members say this is their most playful album yet and they had great fun making it. Barbarba Klein has more.

That was the song "Spaceman." Not every rock band sings songs about what it might be like to be seized by space creatures. But this band has imaginative ideas.

The band formed in two thousand two in Las Vegas, Nevada. Guitarist David Keuning placed an advertisement in a newspaper asking to meet people interested in forming a rock band. The singer Brandon Flowers answered his ad. So did the drummer Ronnie Vannucci and the bassist Mark Stoermer.

The band's first album "Hot Fuss" became a hit in Europe. Soon the Killers made a deal with a large record company for future albums.

Here is the song "This is Your Life" from "Day & Age."

Brandon Flowers says he wants people to realize that the Killers are a brave American band. He says the group is thankful for its success and he considers this album as a big thank –you kiss.

We close with another song from "Day & Age." Here is "Human".

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

It was written and produced by Dana Demange. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.

Send your questions about American life to mosaic@voanews.com. Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

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


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Source: US Congress Gets First Member From Vietnam, Anh 'Joseph' Cao
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