Once Upon A Time….
The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.
I found a story circulating that teaches us that the lessons shared among people, whether they are shared with family or strangers, are never fruitless, especially when they are lessons that teach a moral or an ethical imperative. So pay close attention to the elders, ministers, parents, friends and even strangers, who strive to share their very personal brand of wisdom with us. Sit quietly, and listen closely!
Capone and Eddie
Al Capone is a name known by nearly every person alive. He was not a good or moral person, living a life that hurled Chicago into notoriety for being the home of bootlegging, prostitution and murder during the era of Prohibition!
Capone had a lawyer whose nickname was “Easy Eddie.” Handpicked and cared for by Capone, Eddie was very, very good at his job, keeping his boss out of jail for many years! He also was involved directly in some of Capone’s criminal enterprises. As a reward for a job well done, Eddie was paid very well, not just with money, but with many luxuries including a mansion in Chicago. He gave little thought to the atrocities he fostered by the work he did, instead enjoying all the luxuries his position afforded his family….especially his beloved son, who was given the finest clothes, cars, education. Now it is said by some that Eddie, although living a life quite to the contrary, wanted his son to be a better man than he was and so he sought to teach his son right from wrong. And yet these efforts were wanting because Eddie did not live a life worthy of being emulated!
While some of Eddie’s story is in dispute, it is thought that he decided the time was right to clean up his tarnished name. This would mean testifying against Capone and the rest of the mob. Knowing the cost would likely be great, he decided on his course. And sure enough, once Eddie testified, he died in a hail of bullets less than one year later. And yet, when his body was found, the police removed from his pockets a crucifix, a rosary, a religious medal and a poem he had saved from a magazine! The poem read:
“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”
The fighting during World War II produced many heroes, including Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare, who was a Navy fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. His squadron was given a mission and as he took off he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top it off before he took off on the mission. He realized that he would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship, and, after receiving permission from his flight leader, he headed back to his ship.
Suddenly, as he was nearing the Lexington, he spied a squadron of Japanese aircraft heading directly toward his ship and the rest of the fleet. All the ships, having sent their air crews off on the mission, sat defenseless in the water. Butch could not make it to his squadron to bring them back nor did he have the capacity to warn the fleet. He knew there was only one option…he would need to try to divert the planes from the fleet!
Butch dove his aircraft into the Japanese planes, his guns blazing gun fire through the sky. He divided the formation, weaving back and forth, shooting down as many of the enemy as he could, using up all his ammunition. Without bullets, he dove at the planes, hoping to damage as many as he could. The Japanese had no alternative but to retreat from this attacking wild man and Butch returned to the Lexington, his aircraft tattered and torn but still maneuverable!
During his de-briefing, he reported what he did and a gun camera mounted on the wing gave support to his story. This hero became the Navy’s first “Ace” and he was given the Medal of Honor, the first Naval Aviator to be so honored!
Just about a year later, Butch died during an aerial combat mission. He was only 29. However, to his home town, he was a hero, and they would make sure no one ever forgot his name. So the next time you fly into O’Hare International, stop by Butch O’Hare’s memorial and view his Medal of Honor, located between Terminals 1 and 2.
Just in case you are wondering what makes this story so very special, here is the answer to that million dollar question! Butch O’Hare was the son of Eddie O’Hare! So if you find yourself ever wondering just what impact the way you live your life can possibly have on those around you, whether friend or foe, just remember this true story about Eddie and Butch O’Hare!
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12: 6-8 ESV