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Friday Flashback: The Assassination of Anton Cermak

By Prescott Carlson in Miscellaneous on Mar 6, 2009 10:30PM

With Franklin Delano Roosevelt's name being bantered about more these days, what with the comparisons of his New Deal and the current economic stimulus, we thought we would take a look at the 44th Mayor of Chicago, Anton "Tony" Cermak, who died from a gun shot wound 76 years ago today. Had Cermak not taken a bullet intended for the then President-elect, Grandma and Grandpa wouldn't be getting their Social Security checks and we never would have had the chance to watch FDR's delightful fireside chats on television.

On February 15, 1933, Cermak was in Miami, Florida, and had the opportunity to shake hands with Roosevelt at an event in Bayfront Park. As fate would have it, at that moment a young immigrant named Giuseppe Zangara stood up on a bench and fired several shots, one of which struck Cermak in the lung. Four other people were also injured. FDR visited Cermak before his death, and Cermak told him, "I'm glad it was me instead of you."

Even back then the tin foil hat brigade was in force, and rumors abounded that Cermak was the intended target all along as part of a hit ordered by Al Capone, because of Cermak's stance on Chicago's organized crime. After Cermak's death, 22nd Street was renamed in his honor.