By Pastor Ron Buxton
Over the years, I have archived many fascinating stories that I have used for sermon illustrations. The following is one of them, however, the source is anonymous. For those of you old enough to remember, I’m convinced that it was a radio commentary of the late Paul Harvey. Nevertheless, I hope that you derive the same inspiration that I get every time that I read it. You see, for those of us fortunate enough to be fathers, it challenges us to make an investment in integrity.
Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie”, and he was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie’s skills at legal maneuvering kept Capone out of jail for a long time.
To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. His compensation also included a large fenced-in mansion which occupied an entire Chicago city block! Thus, Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. But “Easy Eddie” did have one soft spot. He had an only son that he loved dearly. Nothing was withheld to provide whatever that son needed. And yet, incredibly, he felt a strong impulse to teach his son right from wrong! Eddie wanted his son to be a much better man than he ever was. Ironically, he could not provide what mattered most to his child. He couldn’t pass on a good name nor a good example.
After much internal conflict, Eddie reached a difficult decision. He wanted to rectify the wrongs he had done, so he decided to go to the authorities and turn in Al Capone. For Eddie, he wanted to leave some kind of semblance of integrity that his son would be able to appreciate later on in his own life. Unfortunately, within a year, the life of “Easy Eddie” would end in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely street of Chicago. His investment of integrity was extremely costly.
More than a decade later, a fighter pilot in World War II was assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. On one particular sortie, the pilot noticed that his fuel gauge was near empty. Someone had forgotten to top-off his fuel tank before his flight, so reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. It was that return flight that would almost be defined as a modern miracle in naval aviation annals.
You see, nobody had noticed, by way of the archaic radar of those days, that a squadron of Japanese aircraft were about to surprise attack the now defenseless fleet. All of the available fighter planes were aloft heading to their destinations far away. It was too late to radio those American aircraft back. And so, disregarding all thoughts of personal safety, this lone American fighter pilot dove straight into that Japanese formation. We’re talking one lone fighter pilot against dozens of enemy aircraft. And amazingly, the entire Japanese squadron fled, as Butch O’Hare later landed his tattered fighter plane back onto the carrier! That’s right…O’Hare…as in the man for whom the Chicago airport is now named.
Is there value in the investment of integrity? Let me just conclude by telling you that Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son! Dads, we have the potential to create the future heroes of our society and culture. When we live our lives in ways that honor God and esteem our fellow human beings, our children develop the unselfish and eternal-minded values that are greater than ourselves. Happy Father’s Day!