Eighty years after Benito Mussolini and his regime declared war on the United States, several Italian Fascist memorials still dot the Chicago landscape. These memorials are the name of a major thoroughfare and a plaque at the base of a Columbus statue in Grant Park honoring one of il Duce's closest associates, Italo Balbo, along with an ancient Roman column. Donated by Mussolini to Chicago in July 1934 to commemorate the first anniversary of the arrival of a squadron of twenty-four Italian seaplanes that landed on Lake Michigan, the column was originally associated with the Italian dictator and only after World War II came to be known as the “Balbo monument.” From their dedication in the early 1930s to the present, Balbo Drive, the plaque, and the column have been a source of controversy and conflict within the Italian American and the broader Chicago communities. At issue are the meaning...

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