Posted by: Ron DuBour | July 17, 2020

Knowing your American Heroes ~  Fiorello LaGuardia (1882-1947) ~ by rldubour

Friday! Time for an American Hero! Today is:


Knowing your American Heroes


Fiorello LaGuardia (1882-1947)


Fiorello Art | Pixels




His father Achille La Guardia.

Of the Catholic origin.

His mother Irene Luzzato

Raised Fiorello an Episcopalian.


Moved to Prescott, Arizona

Spend most of his childhood.

As a young man went back to New York

Where he knew he could do some good.


In Budapest, Trieste, and Fiume

From 1901 to 06.

Worked for the U.S. government

At the U.S. consulate.


Returning home went back to school

At the New York University.

A translator for Immigrations

And prevention of children cruelty.


Deputy Attorney General

Of New York in nineteen-fourteen.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

As a reformer he was seen.


Served in the U.S. Army

From seventeen to nineteen.

Rising to the rank of major

The Austrian front was the scene.


He lost his wife in twenty-one

Tuberculosis caused her death.

This was his greatest loss in life

Turned to alcohol and grew depressed.


Recovered and returned to Congress

In nineteen-hundred and twenty-two.

Mayor of New York in thirty-four

For three terms he saw it through.


Under President Roosevelt

He was Director of Civilian Defense.

Known as the “Little Flower”

His popularity was immense.


At sixty-four he passed away

Of pancreatic cancer.

To describe LaGuardia

An American Hero is the answer.


AUTHOR NOTES: LaGuardia was born in the Bronx to an Italian lapsed-Catholic father, Achille La Guardia, from Cerignola, and an Italian mother of Jewish origin from Trieste (Irene Cohen Luzzato), and he was raised an Episcopalian. . His middle name Enrico was changed to Henry (the English form of Enrico) when he was a child. He spent most of his childhood in Prescott, Arizona. The family moved to his mother’s hometown after his father was discharged from his bandmaster position in the U.S. Army in 1898. LaGuardia served in U.S. consulates in Budapest, Trieste, and Fiume (1901–1906). Fiorello returned to the U.S. to continue his education at New York University, and during this time he worked for New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Children and as a translator for the U.S. Immigration Service at Ellis Island (1907–1910).  He became the Deputy Attorney General of New York in 1914. In 1916 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he developed a reputation as a fiery and devoted reformer. In Congress, LaGuardia represented then-Italian East Harlem and was a member of the House of Representatives almost continuously until 1933. According to his biographer-historian Howard Zinn, there were two brief interruptions, one to fly with U.S. forces in Italy during World War I, and the other to serve during 1920 and 1921 as president of the New York City Board of Alderman. LaGuardia briefly (1917-1919) served in the armed forces, commanding a unit of the United States Army Air Service on the Italian/Austrian front in World War I, rising to the rank of major. In 1921 his wife died of tuberculosis. LaGuardia, having nursed her through the 17 month ordeal, grew depressed, and turned to alcohol, spending most of the year following her death on an alcoholic binge. He recovered and became a teetotaler. “Fio” LaGuardia (as his close family and friends called him) ran for, and won, a seat in Congress again in 1922 and served in House until March 3, 1933. Extending his record as a reformer, LaGuardia sponsored labor legislation and railed against immigration quotas. La Guardia [la ‘gwardja]) was the Republican Mayor of New York for three terms from 1934 to 1945. He was popularly known as “the Little Flower”, the translation of his Italian first name, Fiorello [fjo’rɛl:o], also perhaps a reference to his short stature. A popular mayor and a strong supporter of the New Deal, LaGuardia led New York’s recovery during the Great Depression and became a national figure, serving as President Roosevelt’s Director of Civilian Defense during the run-up to the United States joining the Second World War. According to Try and Stop Me by Bennett Cerf, LaGuardia often officiated in municipal court. He handled routine misdemeanor cases, including, as Cerf wrote, a man who had stolen a loaf of bread for his starving family. LaGuardia still insisted on levying the fine of ten dollars. Then he said “I’m fining everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a city where a man has to steal bread in order to eat!” He passed his hat and gave the fines to the defendant, who left the court with $47.50. LaGuardia loved music and conducting, and was famous for spontaneously conducting professional and student orchestras that he visited. He once said that the “most hopeful accomplishment” of his long administration as mayor was the creation of the High School of Music & Art in 1936, now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.[3] In addition to LaGuardia High School, a number of other institutions are also named for him, including LaGuardia Community College. He was also the subject of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Fiorello!. He died at his 5020 Goodridge Avenue home, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 64 and is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. A man of very short stature, LaGuardia’s height is sometimes given as five feet. According to an article in the New York Times, however, his actual height was five feet, two inches.LaGuardia Place, a street in Greenwich Village which runs from Houston Street to Washington Square, is named for LaGuardia; there is also a statue of the mayor on that street.LaGuardia Airport, the smaller of New York’s three major currently operating airports, bears his name; the airport was voted the “greatest airport in the world” by the worldwide aviation community in 1960.

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