Back in the days when Al Capone ran the city of Chicago, his lawyer was a man nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” Despite the fact that Capone’s empire was built around bootleg booze, prostitution, and murder, Easy Eddie’s legal skill always kept his boss out of jail. To show his appreciation, Capone made sure that Easy Eddie was well compensated. Eddie had plenty of money, a fenced-in mansion, house servants, and all the conveniences of the day. His estate was so large that it filled an entire city block of Chicago. Eddie had it made, and he didn’t worry himself about the incredible damage he was doing by keeping Capone out of jail.
But Eddie had one soft spot: his son. How he loved that boy! He saw to it that the kid had the best of everything. To his credit, he even tried to teach him the difference between right and wrong. He wanted the boy to rise above the sordid life of the Chicago mob and be a better man than he was.
After a while, though, Eddie began to see how hypocritical his actions were. How could a son stay away from gangsters when his father was so thick with them? How could a son not be enamored with the mob’s wealth when the “good life” his father lived came from that wealth? Eddie realized that the “do as I say and not as I do” line wouldn’t work. So, he decided to change his ways and do something that would allow him to pass a good example and a good name down to his son. That something was going to the authorities and volunteering to testify against “Big Al” and the mob. Eddie knew the danger involved with such a move, but he testified anyway.
And what happened to Easy Eddie? Within a year, his life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. This determined father paid the ultimate price just so he could leave his son with two things all the money in the world couldn’t buy: a good example and a good name.
But wait, the story doesn’t end there. Eddie’s son, Butch, grew up to be a fighter pilot in World War II. He was assigned to an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent out on a mission. Butch hadn’t been in the air too long when he realized that the fuel tank on his airplane hadn’t been refueled. He radioed to his squadron leader and was told to return to the carrier.
On his way back to the ship, Butch saw something that turned his blood cold. A squadron of Japanese Zero planes were speeding their way toward the American fleet. With the American fighters being on mission, the fleet was all but defenseless. Butch knew that he had to do something, but the situation was desperate. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back to defend the fleet, and his radio was such that he couldn’t even use it to warn the fleet about the approaching Zeros.
Finally, Butch decided upon a radical course of action. He would try to divert the squadron of Zeros from the fleet by laying aside all thoughts of personal safety and diving straight into the formation. He went in with guns firing and managed to get the Japanese squadron to break formation. Then he wove in and out of the broken formation, firing at as many planes as he could.
When all his ammunition was gone, he began diving at the Zeros, hoping to at least clip off a plane’s wing or tail and render it unable to fly. He wanted to do whatever he could to keep those planes from reaching the American fleet. His efforts proved successful, too, when the disjointed Japanese squadron finally took off in another direction.
Butch then flew his tattered fighter back to the carrier and reported what had happened. If anyone doubted the truth of his story, that changed when they saw the film from the camera that had been mounted on his plane. In the end, Butch was given one of the nation’s highest military honors. Oh, and by the way, maybe you’ve heard of the airport that was ultimately named after him. That would be Chicago’s famed O’Hare airport. Yes, that airport is named after Butch O’Hare, the son of Easy Eddie O’Hare.
Now tell me, father, do you really believe that the way you live your life won’t have any bearing upon how your child turns out? You aren’t that delusional, are you? Of course it will! That old saying is an old saying for a reason: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Easy Eddie O’Hare had the good sense to examine his rotten tree and realize that it would produce a rotten apple. Then he did that which was necessary to fix his tree. It wasn’t easy, but he did it. May the same be said of all us fathers this Father’s day. As the Bible says, “A good name is better than precious ointment (Ecclesiastes 7:1) and “is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1).