Hitler forces had surrendered in May and the Japanese in September.
True, the atom bomb had been hurled at Hiroshima and Nagasaki but the
full scope of that horror had not yet penetrated the public consciousness.
The war was over and now attention had to be shifted to the tasks of
peace. Even the Tammany-dominated City Council was not entirely
insensitive to the new mood. On April 17 it broke something of a
precedent, adopting Pete's resolution, submitted on behalf of the entire
Council, proclaiming April 25 United Nations Day.That fall Pete's literature and speeches began to focus on peacetime
projects, particularly housing for ex-GI's. He remembered vividly his
experiences as a veteran of World War I and the battle for the bonus. This
had been a different kind of war, he knew, but Pete didn't underestimate
the callousness of the powers-that-be. He recalled only too well the old
saw that yesterday's hero could be today's bum and the man in khaki who
was cheered might well be the man in tatters who was jeered.One of his campaign leaflets spelled it out. What do the ex-GI'S want? Pete said it plainly:
|• ||A Home|
|• ||A Job|
|• ||Lasting Peace|
That's What the Wax Veterans Want!
And with Pete's remarkable sensitivity to a rising racism, the
leaflet -- which had been dictated by Pete -- ended by citing heroes, Black
and white, who had been killed in battle, and concluded in bold capital
NO BULLET EVER STOPPED TO ASK THE COLOR OR
RACE OR RELIGION OF THE SOLDIER IT KILLED.
No question who drafted that leaflet -- it was straight Pete.
And it was felt all over Brooklyn, in every working-class area, among
the Jewish voters of Brighton Beach, among the Black voters of Bedford-Stuyvesant, among the Italian-Americans of Bensonhurst and
Bay Ridge and Red Hook. It was felt in the virtual tidal wave of support
from labor and civic quarters for Pete's third term bid.
No question about it. It was the year of Pete. And it was clearly visible
in the election returns. LaGuardia had declined to run for a fourth term
and the ALP had formed an alliance with the Democrats to support Bill