These are two small real-life stories of the past and probably the best you’ll ever read. Note that it’s important to read both of them. Go ahead.
STORY – 1
Back in the early 1900s lived a notorious gangster who literally ruled the city of Chicago. His name was Al Capone. He was a crime boss who lorded over the windy city dealing with all sorts of crimes under the sun – from prostitution to murder to tax evasion. But he owed this to one man – his lawyer nick-named “Easy Eddie” – who kept him out of legal trouble for a long time. Eddie’s skills at legal manoeuvring were next to none, and that’s why he was handsomely rewarded by Al Capone. However, Eddie had one soft corner in his heart – he loved his son dearly. And despite his involvement with organized crime with the biggest gangster in town, he wanted to teach his son better. He wanted him to become a good man. But with his own involvement in all the wrong things, he could neither pass a good example nor a good name – something which bore a deep hole in his heart for a long time. One day, Eddie thought of rectifying his wrongdoings. He thought of going to the authorities to expose Al Capone for cleaning a tarnished name, and hopefully offering his son some semblance of integrity. This was a huge decision to make because he knew the repercussions could be many including the possibility of him paying the highest price – his life. But he showed courage and one day he did it. He testified against Al Capone to the authorities. All of Al Capone’s crimes were exposed through evidence brought up by Eddie and he was put behind bars. After 6 years, just a week before Al Capone was to be released from prison, Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. The killers got lost in traffic and no arrest was ever made, but it was most certain it had something to do with what he did to Capone earlier. Eddie did pay the highest price he could, but in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a religious symbol, a medallion, and a poem which 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.”
STORY – 2
World War II produced many heroes. One such hero was Lieutenant Cdr Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington of the US Navy in the South Pacific. On Feb 20, 1942, Lexington’s radar picked up several signals of unknown aircrafts within a 50-mile radius from the carrier. For safety, a combat patrol mission was launched and many aircrafts took airborne. Few hours later, the carrier caught another signal on radar, and this time, it was only 12 miles out on the disengaged side of the carrier, completely unopposed. With most of the aircrafts gone for the first mission, the carrier was left with just 2 planes for the latter one – one of Butch O’Hare and the other of his wingman named Duff. As Lexington’s only protection, they raced eastward and arrived 1,500 feet to find 9 attacking Japanese bomber planes. Duff’s guns were jammed and wouldn’t fire, leaving only O’Hare to protect the carrier. The enemy formation was a V of Vs flying very close together and using their rear-facing guns for mutual protection. O’Hare’s aircraft, armed with four 50-caliber guns, with 450 rounds each, had ammunition for only about 34 seconds of firing. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported in and narrated the event. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane too told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircrafts. For this valour act, on April 21, 1942, he became the first naval recipient of the Medal of Honor in World War II. O’Hare’s final action took place a year later in 1943 where he was killed in an aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. And if you ever find yourself at O’Hare International Airport, do visit Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor.
So, these are 2 great stories of the past which convey a strong message. But what else do they have in common? Well, you see, Butch O’Hare was …. Easy Eddie’s son!
I came across this story when I was attending a training session as a new volunteer for Make A Difference, and when I heard the end, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I really did not know what had happened to me. All I could do is wonder in amazement that such things could really happen.
Very recently, I conducted a training session myself for the new volunteer teachers who had just joined Make A Difference, and I got to narrate the same story to everyone. I got teary-eyed by the end, even though I knew the end. Because for me, it was really personal. This small tale answered the most important question I had been searching the answer for for a long time. And the question is –
“Will it be worth it?”
Many times, I find myself in a position playing a very long-term game having no idea of how it’s going to turn out. Be it a session on the squash court or gym, working for the National Games, but about to give up, or teaching Science to kids on a Sunday afternoon in St. Patricks shelter home and realizing that the class isn’t going the way you had planned, or the massive effort to pull off even the smallest of fundraising campaigns and probably not getting results fast enough, there are times when I have no idea whether it will be worth it or not. It is during these times that I start questioning my faith. But then stories like these restore your “faith” in “faith”, don’t they? Because now I have started believing that no matter what you do now, it will definitely make an impact in the future. It’ll definitely make someone’s life better. It’ll definitely go on to inspire people, even though you may not realise it or even be around to witness it. So, don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. Show the courage you’re meant to. Start doing things you believe in without thinking of the end result. Make every goddamn second count.
“Because in the end, it’ll be worth it.”