Americo Bugliani, PhD., with his liberator, Paul Sakamoto, 100th Infantry Battalion/ 442nd RCT veteran. Photo: Ann Bugliani.
Dr. Americo Bugliani
Dr. Americo Bugliani was born November 22, 1932, in Pietrasanta, a small Italian town nestled between the ocean and the Apuan Alps in Tuscany. It is sometimes referred to as the sculpture capital of the world. As an anti-fascist, his father emigrated to the U.S. 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. The soldier 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, Americo tried to find Paul Sakamoto. He started his search by calling all the Sakamotos in California. Having no luck, someone suggested he call Hawaii. There on the Big Island, he was reunited with Paul. The happy reunion made the front page of the Hawaii Herald in an article titled “A Debt of Gratitude.” But Americo 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 who 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. The story is recorded in David Ono’s award-winning documentary for ABC and 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 when he was elected Commander of the American Legion Post 1183 Chicago Nisei. 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 and eventually became 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 also secured funding to launch the first Italian-American Studies program in the United States. Before retiring, Americo went into business for himself as a wholesale jeweler. In 2001 his wife, Ann, was appointed Director of the Loyola University of Chicago Rome Center Campus for a two-year term. And so Americo and Ann moved to Rome and after two years they moved to Pietrasanta where Americo died on January 17, 2019. Americo and Ann were happily married for 58 years.
[Ed Note: The March 2009 edition of the Advocate featured an article by JAVA Life Member Americo Bugliani, Ph.D., titled "A Debt of Gratitude: A young Italian American boy’s experience with the 100th Bn, 442nd RCT, which can be accessed with the following link: