Like the golden age of American movies, when director Frank Capra, the son of Italian immigrants, made films that captivated an entire nation (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, so many more!), Americans have looked to Italian American mayors to make our cities – especially our big cities – everything that is best in us. This country’s diversity, its fearlessness, its cacophony, its poetry, its eclecticism, its inclusiveness, its loves, lusts, physicality, brilliance, beauty … Yep. We Americans seem to fall head over heels in love with our Italian American mayors, who reflect us back to us! Through their VISION – and Tom Menino had VISION in spades! He just looked like my uncle George! And not like Charlie Baker!
Tom Menino, like we American city dwellers, was … complicated. Smart. Compassionate. Competitive. Poetic…
Why does it so often fall on us Italian Americans? Is it “my people’s” love of family, kids, gardens/nature? Our ability to be hands-on, in-your-face, ever present? To not be afraid of good, hard WORK? Our ability to love the underdog to death cuz we know what it can feel like? (even when we are “in” we are still out, to many folks!) Our emotions, so thick and entangling?! Our go for broke style when we truly love someone, like our mothers – or our cities?
For so many of us Italian Americans, it’s this: The intense, physical work ethic we bring to our jobs is the love we show God for the gifts she has given us! Every day! When I think of Tom Menino I think of the poet’s words: “WORK IS LOVE MADE VISIBLE. ”
Work is LOVE made VISIBLE …
– Rosalie Tirella
Here, from The Boston Globe, is a fantastic column on the late, great Boston Mayor Tom Menino!
– R. T.