Monuments and Memories >< Italo Balbo vs. Ed Burke

CCI Editor’s Note – Special to Chicagoans

By Mike Fahey, August 26, 2017

Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, a pseudo historian, wants to tear down Burnham Park’s historic Balbo Pillar Monument and rename nearby Balbo Avenue. That pillar was built between 117 B.C. and 38 B.C., one of the oldest sculptures in the United States. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has given Burke his imprimatur because they each have discovered that Italo Balbo was once a fascist. Parenthetically, Rahm Emanuel also labels the President of the United States as a fascist, and the mayor has already renamed the street formerly known as Trump Drive adjacent to Trump Tower. The mayor and the alderman do not care much about Chicago’s mounting body count, but they care a lot about century-old fascism.

Unless you were educated in the government’s public school system, you probably already know that Italo Balbo was lauded by Sir Winston Churchill before WWII, and was eulogized by Sir Winston Churchill during WWII. Note to pseudo-historian Ed Burke: Churchill was on our side during the War.

The Balbo Pillar Monument commemorates the 1933 first transatlantic crossing of 24 amphibious airplanes from Rome to Chicago led by lawyer-aviator Italo Balbo. Dedicated at Chicago’s Century of Progress World’s Fair, the Balbo Monument still stands in its original place near the shore of Lake Michigan where Italo Balbo landed. The ancient pillar monument was a 1934 gift to the people of Chicago from the people of Italy.

Balbo’s lakefront landing at Chicago’s Century of Progress World’s Fair was met with robust parades and celebrations by all Chicagoans except for small groups of Mafiosi and Communists. Democrat President F.D. Roosevelt awarded Italo Balbo with our Distinguished Flying Cross at a White House luncheon in Balbo’s honor. The Sioux honorarily adopted Balbo as Chief Flying Eagle.

Mussolini considered Balbo a threat. Balbo vociferously opposed legislation against Jews, and backed up his words with actions, once inviting a prominent Italian Jew to a state dinner attended by Hitler. In your face, Adolf! Balbo always refused to give the Fascist salute, preferring the Western handshake instead. When Mussolini formed an alliance with Nazi Germany, Balbo publicly told the Fascists, “You will all wind up shining the shoes of the Germans.” Balbo consistently argued against fighting the Allies. At a Fascist Grand Council meeting on December 7, 1939, Balbo even proposed that Italy fight on the side of France and Britain against Nazi Germany. In return, Mussolini called Balbo a “democratic pig.” When Mussolini backed Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Balbo publicly declared, “It is necessary to get rid of Mussolini before it is too late.” Italo Balbo’s fierce opposition to Mussolini’s policies was well known, and Balbo remained extremely popular with the Italian people. Chicagoans are rightfully proud of the city’s avenue and monument to this courageous Italian voice from an era Churchill called the Gathering Storm.

Eighteen months before the Pearl Harbor attack, Italo Balbo died tragically as a passenger on an airplane shot down by Fascist guns (possibly ordered by Mussolini). The Italian hero was immediately eulogized by Winston Churchill.

Italo Balbo was awarded one bronze and two silver medals for courage while allied with America in WWI. Alderman Ed Burke was a notorious draft dodger in the Vietnam War.


Mike Fahy is an attorney in Chicago.

(Forward to others if you wish because this issue is not going to go away.)