35th Chicago Mayor. He was a Czech immigrant born in Kladno, a village near Prague. Arriving in American, the family settled in the coal mining town of Braidwood, Illinois. He attended just three years of elementary school before being forced into the mines to help support his family. At nineteen, he started his own hauling business in Chicago. Becoming active in local Chicago politics, he was soon elected to the state legislature and then elected mayor of the city. He was instrumental in swinging Chicago voters in the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the White House. While on vacation, he joined the entourage of President-elect Roosevelt's victory parade in Miami, Florida. The President’s car stopped to greet well-wishers and give a short speech. Guiseppe Zangara pushed through the crowd firing five shots at the President-elect; he was not hit, but Mayor Cermak fell from of the car with gunshot wounds. At this point, Roosevelt then ordered the critical mayor to be put back in the car cradling his head in his lap as the vehicle raced toward Jackson Memorial Hospital. The mayor remained hospitalized until he died three weeks later from his wounds. His body was returned to Chicago where a funeral service was held at Chicago Stadium, the facility which was home to the city's sports teams until demolished in 1995. A half-a-million people lined the streets to watch the funeral procession travel to Bohemian National Cemetery, which was founded especially as a burial place for Chicago's many Czech descendants. Mayor Anton Cermak was placed in the family mausoleum. On his crypt the words "I am glad it is me instead of you", which were the words he uttered to President Roosevelt prior to his death. Conspiracy theories still abound. Many memorials to this mayor exist: Chicago's 22nd Street, the main thoroughfare through the Czechoslovak neighborhoods, has been re-named Cermak Avenue; a branch of the Blueline of the Chicago El is known as the "Cermak Branch”; a Cook County man-made fishing lake and park is dubbed Cermak Quarry. A commemorative plaque graces Miami's Bayfront Park near the spot of the assassination attempt.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield
"I am glad it is me instead of you"