What’s in a Name

Published: August 31, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
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Most people may not recognize Carl Muscarello by name but are probably familiar with his picture.

He’s the sailor kissing the nurse in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic, 1945 photograph on V-J Day in Times Square. However, Carl describes himself as, “an Italian-American kid from Brooklyn, New York who has been fortunate in that happiness in my life has come from my children, their children, my family and friends and my belief in God.”

Carl’s story comes from my book, in response to the question, What Do You Stand For? and reflects on the importance of a good reputation.

“Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. Believe in what you are doing.

“I was born in New York City in 1926, the third of eight children. My father, Sebastian, and my mother, Maria Grazia, both emigrated from a small town in Sicily, Italy. I could not speak English until I was about five years old.  I was fluent in the Italian language, specifically, the Sicilian dialect.

“When I became a New York City Policeman, and later a detective, due to this talent I was assigned to intercept conversations from telephone wiretaps and hidden listening devices. The conversations were all in the Sicilian dialect. At the time, organized crime was controlled by the Sicilian Mafia, so I was assigned to infiltrate the mob to make controlled buys of contraband. You should have seen the look on some of the wise guys’ faces when my true identify was learned.

“As I appeared in Court to testify against them, one screamed, ‘How could you do this?’ as I was Italian just like they were.

“Yes, I was Italian, but not like them, and neither was my father, or my brothers who did back breaking work in the construction industry to support their families.

“My name, I got it from my father. It was all he had to give. It was now mine to use and cherish for as long as I may live. If I lost the watch he gave me, it could always be replaced, but a black mark on our name can never be erased. It was clean the day I took it, and a worthy name to bear when he got it from his father. There was no dishonor associated with it, so I made sure to guard it wisely.

“After all is said and done, I was glad my name was spotless when I handed it to my son, Tony. True to form he has only enhanced it. And all my nephews have done the same.”


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