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August 26, 2016     Post-Gazette
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August 26, 2016

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PAGE 2 POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 26, 2016 Nostra by Prof. Edmund TurieUo THE ROMAN COLOSSEUM It takes a village to raise a child; we hear this all the time. How about this one: are the apples of a family tree shaped by the tree they grow on or the orchard the tree is planted in? In this story, it's clearly the orchard the tree is planted in -- two men from two different generations and technically two different blood lines (one is adopted). They hail from the same "orchard," but from different eras, and both can attest to how great mentors helped shape their lives. Sal Balsamo's mother, Lina Giambanco Balsamo, was the sister of Peter Joseph Giambanco, Chris Zizza's maternal grandfather. While Sal and Chris might be cousins separated by 33 years, their values, love of family and country, and commitment to lue Ellis Island Inductees Sal Balsamo and Chris Zizza. Inside Rome's Colosseum visitors can view the chambers that once held animals and contenders below the arena floor. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons) For centuries, the Roman Colosseum was considered to be the most extravagant expen- diture for public amusement ever made in the world. It was intentionally built as a place for the wholesale destruction of human and animal life for the amusement of spectators, and for witnessing these scenes of murder and butchery which were repeated hour after hour, day after day, and month after month. We know that this amphithe- ater was the scene of fearful barbarities during the persecu- tions of the Christians. We also know from earlier columns that the reason for these persecu- tions was because the Chris- tians worshiped their own God and would not pay homage to the Emperor nor would they serve in the Roman Army. They were also falsely charged with starting the fire that burned two-thirds of Rome in 64 A.D. Because of these events, Nero banned ChfisUanity and started the persecutions which lasted for 250 years. The structure was also used for Gladiatorial combats for 300 years. For the provision of this fatal service to the Emperor, the empire, and the glory of the Colosseum, they always kept ready in Rome about 10,000 gladiators, held as prisoners. They were strong, athletic, well- fed, well-lodged, skilled in the use of combat weapons, and had at one time been soldiers themselves who had fought against the Roman Legions, and in some instances even defeated them. One thing was for sure; they were absolutely certain of an early death. The sheer stupidity of it all seems to be the manner in which these herds of human beings accepted their fate, yielded to the ceremonial atmo- sphere of the arena, considered this mortal combat as a duty, made the grand procession around the combat area, yelled the famous Ave[ and then flung themselves against man or beast in a fight to the death. The last Gladiator fights took place in 404 A.D. and the last wild beast fight in 503 A.D. Bull fights were held.there from 1312 to 1362. No chariot races were held in the Colosseum, these were reserved for the Roman Circus. There are those who have said that while the building was imposing, because of the nature of its activity, it was never considered beautiful. The exterior was faced with traver- tine, and had the Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian Orders super- imposed on the first, second, and third stories respectively. The interior had marble fac- ing on the emperor's ringside platform. There was a marble throne, marble seats for the dignitaries, and row upon row of stone seats for the spectators. Huge masts projecting from the upper story were equipped to hold brightly colored awnings which protected the spectators from the summer sun. During the 15m and 16th cen- tufies, it was used as a quarry to furnish building stones for a number of churches and palaces. The destruction was stopped after two-thirds of the original material was removed. The structure was later con- secrated to the memory of the Christian martyrs. The building got the name Colosseum from the colossal statue of Nero which stood near it in Ancient Times. It has been said many times: While stands the Colosseum, Rome shall stand. When falls the Colosseum, Rome shall fall. NEXT ISSUE: The Roman Circus Ellis Island, clrca 191 I. giving back are parallel in every way. In fact, in 2013 Chris received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, an award that Balsamo received 10 years earlier. The two share this prestigious honor with six past presidents, including Ronaid Reagan (a favorite president of both men}. The award recognizes those who exemplify and live a life of patriotism and philanthropy. Clearly, the guidance and mentoring each of these men experienced along the way had a tremendous impact on how they both live their lives. Chris says he is sure integrity was always in his blood since birth, but he believes his moral fiber came directly from his upbringing in Westwood, MA, where he was raised by Anthony and Judi Zizza along with his sister Susan and brother Michael. He credits his father and mother with teaching him the difference between right and wrong and instilling in him a strong work ethic. He was quoted as saying "my father would have crucified me for any wrong-doing that may have muddied the family name." Right, wrong, and God were a constant growing up in the Zizza Family and in 1986, when Zizza opened his Company C & R Flooring at the young age of 19, he told his mother he wanted to give back to Catholic Charities, where his parents adopted him from. She replied, ~/hy don't you go see Sal, he is on the Board of Directors." As they sayLn the movie business, enter stage fight -- a mentor. While there is no question Chris' first mentors were his parents; in the following chapter of his life it was Sal Balsamo. Sal mentored him in the board rooms of both Catholic Charities and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. For many years, the two sat side by side at breakfast meetings in the dining room at Woodland Country Club for Catholic Charities or dinner meetings at Lucia's restaurant for National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, all the while striving to make the world a better place and help give young kids better lives. It was in the Catholic Charities board room that Chris learned the importance of being true to your word and following through on your commitments. Chris was, at that time, the youngest board member, appointed at the young age of 19. For 11 years, he served alongside others he also credits as mentors: Jack Shaughnessy of Shaughnessy Crane Service, Marshall Sloane of Century Bank, Don Rodman of Rodman Ford, and Judge Francis Larkin. ~Talk about growing up fast, this was a tough room to measure up in,~ Chris recalls. "Sal believed in me and gave me the opportunity to learn from not only him, but others who shared his values." Sal Balsamo credits his father Anthony for his early years of mentoring. Sal is quoted as saying, "I got my degree in business working for my father, first at his restaurant The Toby House, then his next restaurant effort, Snack Time, and finally his third restaurant, Rosario's." All three were located in Boston's Copley Square. Sal said his father taught him something he never forgot: "A business is like a flower. You need to always nurture it and water it and help it grow, as the day it stops growing, is the same day it starts dying." One day, Rosafio's was forced to close as the building was sold and the lease had been canceled by the new owners. Sal was forced to find a job. Enter Sal's professional mentor, George Spector, Who was the assistant manager of John Hancock's office in Dorchester where Sal also lived. Sal was 28 years old and married with three kids. George taught Sal he could do anything he put his mind to. By teaching Sal to believe in himself, George helped Sal find the path to start a business which became one of the largest staffing companies in the world. TAC Worldwide operated in 27 different countries. Sal never stopped nurturing the company and the people who worked for him. The lesson of the flower sticks with him to this day. Despite being overwhelmingly successful at business, Sal considers his greatest legacy his 64 years of marriage to his wife Yvonne, his three children, Tony, Linda, and Vikki, and, of course, his grandchildren. This would have made his mentors proud. Over the years, the two men's careers certainly blossomed like properly nurtured flowers. Sal is now retired and Chris is President of C & R Flooring in Westwood and 1st Quality Discount Flooring in Framingham (his latest start- up). Chris is always striving to find opportunities to learn, teach, and help others get ahead, as he and Sal will tell you that they would not be as successful today, both personally and professionally, without the mentors they had along the way. In this election year, and in every election, perhaps the politicians and media should stop focusing on social injustice or social inequality and instead focus on being pro-active with our youth, mentoring them, and pointing them in the right direction to make smart decisions to better themselves. We don't need another story about the teenager that robbed the convenience store or stole a car; we need the story about the young boy or girl that helped an elderly person in their neighborhood. "The news media doesn't need to highlight the illegal immigrant with the drunk driving charge who is still free in our country, but instead highlight the immigrant who wakes up every day, works hard, pays his taxes, and goes to night school and on Saturdays to learn English,~ says Chris. %Vhat we need is a little more old school mentoring. Honor, integrity, moral fiber, the meaning of a hand shake and the meaning of giving your word must never go out of fashion! We need to do everything we can to not let these old school values fall out of sight from our youth[" As a society, it is time we all look over our shoulder, in front of you, or beside you at that young person hiding behind a text or email. Let's teach them that everyone has potential. Let's teach them that a life of charity, patriotism, and hard work, like SaPs and Chris', is attainable no matter what the odds.