Integrity Matters Broadcasts

July 3, 2003


Dear Friends:

Once again, the 4th of July is upon us, a reminder of those who founded this nation, assisted its growth and protected the promises that are our Declaration of Independence.

Today, we are challenged to remember what was good and could be good again about our nation and our world. Given the opportunities afforded each of us, it might be prudent to consider that our lives and our personal example are the best gifts we can pass along.

The accompanying July 2, 2003, “Integrity Matters” column speaks to the power and lasting impact of a positive role model. After you have read our column, “Set a good integrity example for your children” – would you please pass along your own illustrations?



Set a good integrity example for your children
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on July 2, 2003


How does one teach integrity to children? How does one pass along values? Are there any examples you might share?


The best teaching is by example. Our words are never as powerful as our actions. What we do makes all the difference. The following two stories illustrate the answers:

Story No. 1: Legendary Chicago gangster Al Capone had a skilled lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” Capone rewarded him well, and Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob.

He did have one soft spot, however: a son. Eddie saw to it that his young son had the best of everything. Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. But with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son - two things Eddie sacrificed to the Capone mob - a good name and a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. He decided to go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone. He would try to clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity.

But Eddie would have to testify against The Mob. So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he would ever pay.

Story No. 2: World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he realized someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold. A Japanese squadron was speeding its way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless.

There was only one thing to do. He must divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Even after his ammunition was spent, Butch dove at the enemy planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many as possible. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. So the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial.

Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.

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