IN MEMORIUM – AMERICO BUGLIANI
Americo Bugliani was born 86 years ago in Pietrasanta, a small Italian town nestled between the ocean and the Appuan Alps in Tuscany. It is sometimes referred to as the sculpture capital of the world. As an anti-fascist, his father emigrated to the US to seek work and so Americo was born with American citizenship which he cherished his entire life. When WWII broke out the front line was to go right through his town. He and his family lost everything, suffering hunger and untold hardships during the war. But one day he met an American soldier who gave him his first toothbrush, a tube of Colgate toothpaste and other items. He told him his name was Paul Sakamoto and gave him a picture of himself. Americo said that was his only day of happiness during the war. He kept that picture in his wallet for many years. Fifty years later he tried to find Paul Sakamoto, calling all the Sakamotos in CA. Someone suggested he call Hawaii. There on the big Island he was reunited with Paul. The reunion made the front page of the Hawaii Herald in an article titled “A Debt of Gratitude.” But he felt he needed to do more, so he organized the leading citizens of Pietrasanta and persuaded them to construct a monument in honor of the Nisei soldiers that had liberated their hometown. The beautiful monument by world-renowned sculptor Marcello Tommasi depicts Sadao Munemori, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic death on the Gothic Line. This story is recorded in David Ono’s award-winning documentary for ABC. It can be viewed at https://youtu.be/WgbEuPokfWA.
Americo’s father was a WWI veteran and Americo was a veteran of the Korean War, serving in Germany, Austria, and Italy. He was immensely honored at having been elected commander of the Chicago Nisei Post 1183. His liberators had chosen him as commander!! Unbelievable. He was also very proud of having become a Kentucky Colonel.
Americo began his professional life in the travel industry, ending his career as vice president of an international travel company. He then took a furlough to obtain his Ph.D. at Northwestern University. His academic career as a professor at the University of Illinois was highlighted by the publication of many articles and three scholarly books. He was also able to secure funding the launch the first Italian-American Studies program in the United States. He went on to go into business for himself as a wholesale jeweler before retirement. In 2001 his wife, Ann, was appointed director of the Loyola University of Chicago Rome Center Campus for a 2 year stint. And so Americo and Ann moved to Rome, and after 2 years they moved to Pietrasanta, where Americo died on January 17, 2019. Americo and Ann had been happily married for 58 years.