Pete was a little guy who made a little American history. He was a little guy to the day of his death and then hundreds of thousands, grown-ups and children, cried and said he was a great guy.
He wasn't the first Communist to be elected to public office in the United States. Communists had held elective offices in Western mining towns and elsewhere. Their names are forgotten. Pete's achievement was so truly the beginning that when future generations of schoolchildren are asked who was the first Communist to be elected to public office, they will assuredly answer Peter V. Cacchione. The pedantic schoolteacher will undoubtedly mark this answer "wrong."
But this has little to do with why there was so singular an outpouring of grief at the death of a humble legislator who left behind him not one law bearing his name. Very simply, people wept because they loved him. That's all there was to it except that whom the people love they make immortal.
Mike Gold (From an unpublished manuscript) 1948.