Editor's note: This week Mormon Times shares stories from staffers' and contributors' family history whether one from an ancestor or their search to fill out their family tree that educate, entertain, inspire or uplift.
Doing family history is more than simply recording who lived and died. Genealogy is more about discovering the people who are the origins of the characteristics that mold who we are and potentially who we can become. While studying the life of my great-grandfather, Augusto Galieti, I came to know the man who would become a hero to me, as well as the man who, by example, unlocked potential greatness within myself.
Born in 1896, Augusto Galieti grew up in an Italy steeped in political turmoil and economic change. Shortly after marrying Margherita Cuomo, Augusto was threatened to either join with the rising totalitarian political party in the country, or die in 14 days. Augusto abandoned the life he knew in Italy to bring Margherita to the United States and start a new life away from the threat of oppression and away from family.
Finding work in Ohio, Augusto and Margherita built a home and started a new life filled with promise and freedom. After living in the United States for 14 months, Augusto came home to a crying and distant, seven-month pregnant wife Margherita. After pressing her as to the nature of her distress, Margherita eventually revealed that a man came by the home delivering a single piece of paper bearing the mark of a black hand. The man demanded a sum of money (in the name of protection) to stay the threats from what some would define as a mafia-type organization.
Having recently left Italy to escape oppression, Augusto had grown tired of living a life directed by threats on his freedom. After discovering the mystery man's identity, Augusto accosted the man sending the clear message that any threats on his family would be returned in kind.
Months later, as an Italian heritage fraternal organization was forming in Ohio, the mafia sought to gain control over this organization as well. Augusto feared what could result, and was fed up with the influence of those who seek to oppress. Augusto stood up in the officer election meeting, offered a commanding speech calling for the expulsion of mafia influence and for the membership to vote accordingly.
Understanding that such an act of blatant defiance could likely result in his death, Augusto still chose to be a man of integrity. The members of the fraternal organization were so empowered by his speech and example, that he was elected as the organization's first president.
The more I study Augusto Galieti, the more I come to know a man who stood for what was right regardless of opposition. Freedom and family were principles he defended with his life. Knowing these principles are "in my blood" helps me to know I can follow his example, stand for what is right and just, and perhaps be a hero to future generations as he has been to me. When the time came to go to the temple and perform exalting ordinances on his behalf, the experience was more than obligatory officiating on behalf of a stranger. Instead, it was a honor to have a part in saving my hero, my great-grandfather, Augusto Galieti.