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Lillian Cross, Who Saved FDR from Assassin’s Bullet, Buried in Miami

Nov. 10, 1962 - Mrs. Lillian Cross, the woman who saved Franklin D. Roosevelt from an assassin’s bullet 29 years ago, was buried in Miami, Fla., today — the same day as Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Cross died Thursday at the age of 78. At a political rally in Miami on Feb. 15, 1933, Mrs. Cross stood up on a bench to get a better look at President-elect Roosevelt, who was sitting in the rear seat of an open car about 15 feet away. Giuseppe Zangara (pictured) stood on the same bench. Mrs. Cross glanced at him and saw a pistol in his hand. Telling the story later, she said: “I said to myself, ‘Oh, he’s going to kill the President!’ I had my bag in my right hand, but in less time than it takes to tell, I switched it to my left and caught him by the arm. I twisted his arm up. I don’t know how many shots he fired or where they went, but I know he was aiming right at Mr. Roosevelt.” The shots were fired so close to Mrs. Cross’s face that her family later noticed that her right cheek was smudged with gunpowder smoke. Bullets hit four people, including Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago, who died three weeks later. Zangara was electrocuted on March 20, 1933. Mrs. Cross became a national heroine. She visited New York and sat in a place of honor at President Roosevelt’s inauguration. In a telegram of thanks, the President wrote her: “It is hard for me to find words to convey to you my appreciation for your heroism and my gratitude for your prompt and courageous action.”


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