Mt. Carmel St. Cristina Society

"Little Flower" Fiorello La Guardia

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About the “Little Flower” Fiorello La Guardia? He had a perfect background and temperament for New York City. He was born in Greenwich Village in 1882 to an agnostic (def. – one who doubts the existence of God) Italian father and an Australian Jewish mother. He spoke English, Italian, Yiddish, Hungarian, German, Serbian, Croatian, and Spanish. He was raised in Arizona and lived as a young man in Europe. He returned to New York at the age of 23 where he became an interpreter at Ellis Island while he earned his law degree in the evening at NYU. His specialty was immigration law. His first wife was a Catholic, but after she died he married a Lutheran and he was an Episcopalian!! La Guardia received his law degree and was admitted to the bar in 1910 at the age of 28 – he was a champion of the poor and helpless. In 1916 he won a seat in Congress as the first republican to serve his district since the civil war. When the United States entered World War I he took a leave of absence and enlisted in the Army as a First Lieutenant. Before the war ended he was a Major. When he returned to civilian life we won his old seat in Congress but soon left at the urging of New York Republican leaders to run for Mayor. La Guardia was sworn in as Mayor of New York on January 1, 1934. La Guardia served New York City with great flair and distinction for 12 years! The Broadway musical “Fiorello” paid him a great tribute and of course La Guardia Airport is named after him. The “Little Flower” died in 1947; one of New York’s and the country’s most unforgettable character!