Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Forgotten Monuments...

Despite the fears of a taco truck on every corner we forget about a monument to Fascism that was once gifted to our country. On a recent ride along the lake front in Chicago we came upon a 2000 year old Roman pillar that was gifted the city by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. 

The pillar, taken from an ancient building in a port town outside Rome is dated 117-38 BC. Gifted the the city and called the Balboa Monument in memory of an Italian Air-force transatlantic flight led by Balboa that landed in Chicago. It was erected in 1934 in front of the Italian Pavilion at the Century of Progress worlds fair. Note that in the photo the pavilion is gone. The monument stands lonesome in a not very prominent area of Burnham Park. 

At the time of erection some saw it as proof of positive relations between the USA and Italy while others believed it meant that we were ok with murder and terror (why they think that about us?) which was what Mussolini was about. According to the internets there are still some mixed feelings today about whether this is a monument to Fascism or simply a remembrance of a previous age of progress. 

Mussolini ended up hanging upside down from a meat hook at an Esso gas station in 1945. In 1955 after years of shuffling around by neo-fascist and the government authorities the body was buried in a crypt with his bust on top.  It was hard to figure out what to do with a guy like that, kind of like the city of Chicago and the historical pillar he gave them. It's old but who is it that really wants to remember it?  

Anyway, I saw it and think it means something we need to know about. Gogol Bordello, the band that named this blog also thought about Mussolini and wrote about him. 




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