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For Hispanics in US, the 'Fierce Urgency of Now'


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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. This week on our program, we tell about a new set of Beatles CDs and a video game based on the British rock band ...

And we visit the undersea world while staying on dry land ...

But first, a report on National Hispanic Heritage Month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States began September fifteenth. Events are being held throughout the country to celebrate the history, culture and success of America's Hispanic population. Shirley Griffith has more.

National Hispanic Heritage Month first began as National Hispanic Heritage Week in nineteen sixty-eight under President Lyndon Johnson. President Ronald Reagan expanded the national celebration to a month-long event in nineteen eighty-eight.

September fifteenth was chosen as the starting date because it is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries. They are Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that there are almost forty-seven million people of Hispanic heritage living in the United States. They are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the country. Hispanics are fifteen percent of the nation's total population.

The theme for this year's Hispanic Heritage Month is "Embracing the Fierce Urgency of Now." It was taken from the historic "I Have a Dream" speech by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior. In the speech, Mr. King called on Americans to remember the promises of democracy. From historic exhibits to music festivals, this year's Hispanic Heritage Month makes the same appeal.

There are several exhibits at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. This weekend, visitors can see a short theater piece. An actor plays Spanish-American Admiral David Farrugut, a hero in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War. The exhibit is called "The Price of Freedom."

The Library of Congress also has events, including a talk on "Increasing Hispanic Representation in the Federal Government." In addition, cultural fairs and music performances are taking place throughout the country.

At the end of this month the Hispanic Heritage Foundation will honor six Latinos. United States Senator Robert Menendez from New Jersey is among the honorees. Foundation chairman Pedro Jose Greer, Junior says all of the honorees serve as role models not only for Latinos but for all Americans. The official Hispanic Heritage Month celebration ends on October fifteenth. The unofficial celebration continues all year round.

Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium in the southern city of Atlanta calls itself the largest aquarium in the world. It is filled with thousands of fish, large and small, from all over the world. It is a very popular place for visitors who want to learn more about the wonders of the underwater world. Faith Lapidus tells us more.

FAITH LAPIDUS:

Two huge walls of fish greet visitors to the Georgia Aquarium. The jack fish inside these tall tanks swim back and forth quickly. They are lit with a striking blue light and seem to glow in the dark room. Visitors can choose to visit rooms with river fish and animals, or they can explore creatures found in warm tropical waters.

In the "Coldwater Quest" exhibit, visitors can watch three large white beluga whales. These beautiful creatures live in the coldest northern waters. They are the only whales with necks that fully bend. Belugas are also known as "canaries of the sea" because of the high-pitched noises they make underwater.

Watching them in the aquarium is a special experience. Their muscular bodies swim gracefully through the water.

The "Ocean Voyager" exhibit is home to many stingrays, hammerhead sharks and groupers. It also has two manta rays, the only ones in an American aquarium. Most exciting of all, this exhibit also holds several whale sharks. These huge creatures are the largest fish in the world. Despite their name, they are not whales. The Georgia Aquarium is the only aquarium in the United States that exhibits these huge fish.

To make all these creatures visible, museum experts built huge walls of acrylic material that is over half a meter thick. One viewing window is about eighteen meters wide by seven meters tall. But to really experience this ocean world, you can enter a tunnel and watch the fish swimming above you.

The exhibits teach young visitors about the importance of protecting sea creatures and the environments they live in.

But the Georgia Aquarium is more than just a museum. It partners with the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine to operate the Correll Center for Aquatic Animal Health. The group says this is the first and only teaching hospital for animals to operate within an aquarium.

The Beatles

Our listener question this week comes from Masoud in Iran. He wants to learn about the famous rock band the Beatles.

Masoud has great timing. A new video game featuring the Beatles went on sale last week. And a new group of Beatles CDs was also released last week. The series includes digitally improved versions of every song the British band released between nineteen sixty-three and seventy. Experts say these songs have been re-mastered using the latest technology. They sound much better than the CDs that have been sold for the past twenty-two years. Like this song, from nineteen sixty-nine, "Come Together."

The Beatles were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The group began in Liverpool, England in the early nineteen-sixties.

They were together for only ten years. Yet, by some estimates the band has sold one billion albums worldwide.

The Beatles' first big hit single was released in Britain in nineteen sixty-two. It became a number one song in America two years later. Here is "Love Me Do."

People now can play that song along with John, Paul, George and Ringo on "The Beatles: Rock Band" video game. The game uses real Beatles recordings. The video shows colorful and dreamy background images to provide players with a nineteen sixties feel. But does it have the sound of thousands of screaming teenage girls?

That is who welcomed the Beatles on their first American visit in nineteen sixty-four. Crowds of girls waited for the band's arrival at an airport in New York City. The Beatles' concert in Washington, D.C., was also a huge success. And more than half of all the people in the United States watched the Beatles appear on a popular television program during their visit.

We leave you with the Beatles performing their nineteen sixty-seven song, "Fool on the Hill."

I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by June Simms, Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer.


"American Mosaic" in VOA Special English
www.manythings.org/voa/america

Source: For Hispanics in US, the 'Fierce Urgency of Now'
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