Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fiorello La Guardia

According to the Jewish Virtual Library,  though he was Jewish, "he allowed the public to identify him as Italian, not Jewish, even under the most tempting of political circumstances. When issues of Jewish interest came up in New York or national politics, however, the "Little Flower" was an ardent advocate for Jewish rights. As mayor of New York, he was one of Hitler’s most outspoken opponents.

LaGuardia was born in Greenwich Village in 1882 to Achille Luigi Carlo LaGuardia, a Catholic, and Irene Luzzato Coen, who had been raised in an observant Jewish home in Trieste. In 1880, the couple emigrated to the United States. After their third child was born, Achille joined the U.S. Army. The family was sent to remote outposts in South Dakota and Arizona. In 1898, Achille became gravely ill from eating "embalmed" rations supplied to the Army and died four years later. When Fiorello LaGuardia was elected to Congress in 1922, the first bill he introduced called for the death penalty for "scavengers" who supplied tainted food to the military. The bill did not pass, but LaGuardia never lost his Progressive disgust for government corruption or the ability of "the interests" to escape justice."

As the Britannica puts it, "La Guardia was elected to the House of Representatives as a progressive Republican in 1916, but his term was interrupted by service as a pilot in World War I. He was returned to Congress in 1918 and, after serving as president of the New York City board of aldermen in 1920–21, was reelected to the House in 1922. He was reelected four more times, and in the House he opposed Prohibition and supported woman suffrage and child-labour laws. He cosponsored the Norris–La Guardia Act (1932), which restricted the courts’ power to ban or restrain strikes, boycotts, or picketing by organized labour.

In 1933 La Guardia ran successfully for mayor of New York on a reform platform, supported by both the Republican Party and the upstart City Fusion Party, that was dedicated to unseating Tammany Hall (the Democratic organization in New York) and ending its corrupt practices. As mayor, La Guardia earned a national reputation as an honest and nonpartisan reformer dedicated to civic improvement.

And the airport? According to Wikipedia, "The site of the airport was originally used by the Gala Amusement Park, owned by the Steinway family. It was razed and transformed in 1929 into a 105-acre (42 ha) private flying field named Glenn H. Curtiss Airport after the pioneer Long Island aviator, later called North Beach Airport.

The initiative to develop the airport for commercial flights began with an outburst by New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia (in office from 1934 to 1945) upon the arrival of his TWA flight at Newark Airport – the only commercial airport serving the New York City region at the time – as his ticket said "New York". He demanded to be taken to New York, and ordered the plane to be flown to Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field, giving an impromptu press conference to reporters along the way. He urged New Yorkers to support a new airport within their city."

La Guardia appreciated honest and hard work so he would have fit right in at SANS Rocky Mountain 2017.

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