About removing monuments, let us stop and take a deep breath. The current wave of anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi, white nationalist/racist rallies and rhetoric must be condemned. And monuments that glorify an ugly page of our history should probably be removed. But I would argue that they should not be destroyed, but rather placed in museums and other spaces where they can be seen in their historical context as teaching instruments, as warnings, as signs of contrition.
The name Balbo can be replaced by a worthy Italian, chosen perhaps by the Italian-American community of Chicago. The 2000-year-old Etruscan pillar could be rededicated to the Century of Progress, 1933 World’s Fair, and placed at the original site from the fair, or, if that is not possible, in a prominent site in “Little Italy” village. Or, it can be given back to Italy. Most of us abhorred the destruction of precious statutes and art work by the hammers in the hands of Islamic State fanatics. Let’s not go that route.
Martin Deppe, Ravenswood Manor
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Context for Balbo monument
After reading Michael Sneed’s “Bye, Balbo” report, it dawned on me that I had never heard of Italo Balbo. So, I would guess that numerous people in the Chicago area have not heard of him or his connection to Mussolini. So instead of removing the monument, why not use it as a learning tool? Have the Park District place a separate plaque adjacent to the monument, listing the war crimes Mussolini committed after he gained power with Balbo’s help.
Bernard Begeske, Griffith, Indiana
Recalling Balbo’s arrival in Windy City
Chicago aldermen have pushed a drive to rename Balbo Drive on the basis that he was a fascist. It would seem a smoke screen at best to take the spotlight off a bankrupt Chicago that is leaving us with a decaying city, with thousands of abandoned homes and industry leaving the area en masse.
Yes, Balbo was a fascist, but he rapidly helped put Italy into the modern age via aviation. In 1929, he led a mass flight of planes to Brazil, and, in 1933, he led another mass flight to our Chicago World’s Fair. I was there, near Lake Michigan as a 9-year-old boy, seeing Balbo come ashore. And at the now tender age of 94, I still recall the day he flew at low altitude all over the Chicago area. President Roosevelt was so impressed by Balbo that he invited the entire crew to the White House for a visit. Balbo in turn left us with the aviation lanes he charted and they are still being used by all the airlines of the world. He was a natural born aviator mysteriously shot down by Italian anti-aircraft fire over the same field where he was based and where he was a familiar sight. Some historians speculate he was shot down by orders of an envious Mussolini. Balbo had become too popular in the public eye.
Walter Santi, Bloomingdale
In his latest press briefings and television appearances. Gov. Bruce Rauner seems like he’s losing it. He can’t seem to articulate anything other than talking points, doesn’t know who controls hiring new staff and is now attacking the press.
Let us not lose sight of his agenda. He opposes the fundamental right of people to organize in their work place and to have a collective voice in determining their wages and working conditions. He refused to compromise and has stopped at nothing, including a destructive two-year long budget impasse and now a school funding crisis, causing extreme chaos throughout the entire state, to advance his agenda to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Paul Connolly, Bridgeport
Michael Hart, West Ridge