"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
The Tale of Two Eddies
Al “Scarface” Capone was the king of organized crime in Chicago in the 1920s, and his lieutenant was a lawyer people called “Easy Eddie”. Eddie helped Al run his affairs – bootleg liquor, gambling, prostitution, murder – and hide them from the authorities. Eddie was very good at his job, which was basically keeping Scarface out of jail.
Capone paid him well for his services. Eddie had a big house, servants, a fine car. He lived well as an industrial baron, and he didn't lose sleep over what was going on around him. Life was for the successful.
But Easy Eddie did have one soft spot – his beloved son. Eddie lavished him with clothes, a car, a good education, the best of everything money could buy. But there was one other thing Easy Eddie wanted his son to have, something Easy Eddie himself did not have: a good name.
Son one day Easy Eddie made a difficult and dangerous decision, In 1930 he asked a reporter friend to put him in touch with the Internal Revenue Service. He would reveal how Capone made his money and dodged taxes. He became what a top government investigator later said was “one of the best undercover men I have ever known.”
Capone was tried and found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. A few years later, Easy Eddie was shot to death in his car by killers unknown.
The Navy’s first Medal of Honor aviator of World War II was another Eddie, a superb fighter pilot whose many friends called him “Butch”. In the Southwest Pacific in early 1942, the Japanese launched a bomber attack on his aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington. Butch and his wingman were the only flyers aloft close enough to intercept the enemy formation, and the wingman’s guns were jammed. Butch dived at the bombers again and again, weaving in and out of formation with all six 50-caliber guns blazing, shooting down five of the nine enemy planes and so disrupting the attack that none of the bombs fell on target. Butch’s bravery and skill were credited with saving the ship, and he became a national hero.
By late 1943, because of the success of the U.S. navy’s flight tactics, the Japanese bombers had changed their operations and were attacking after dark. To counter this new tactic, Butch and his squadron were developing the Navy’s first night operations. Airborne radar and navigation equipment were primitive in 1943, nowhere near as capable as the modern gear that makes night operations routine. In this risky environment, the Navy’s first Medal of Honor aviator was shot down. Neither he nor his plane was ever found.
In 1945 the U.S. Navy named a new destroyer after him: the USS O’Hare (DD-889). The city of Chicago went a step further. To honor their hometown hero, in 1949 its citizens named their new airport after him: O’Hare International.
In the end, “Easy Eddie” O’Hare, Al Capone’s top lawyer, had found a way to transform his life from one of success – tainted though it was by the crimes he abetted – to a life of significance. He gave the world a principled son, Edward “Butch” O’Hare, who redeemed the family name.
“The key to realizing a dream is to focus, not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning." – Oprah Winfrey