When I was born into this world, I grew up being the average kid. My parents remained married for 40-plus years until my father’s death. We always had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over our heads. Not that I had all I wanted, but I did have all I needed. There were no experiences in my childhood that ruined me in any way. As I have said many times, the fact that all the other kids did not have the same as I did eluded me until adulthood.
None of us have a choice as to who, where and what conditions we are born into. We just show up on this earth and have a hand already dealt. Now we can choose to go with those cards or ask for another hand, depending on what cards we have.
In the movie “A Knights Tale,” William, the main character was born into a poor, ordinary family. His dream was to be a knight and compete in competitions. He was not of noble birth, so that was not an option for him. His father told him that he should follow his dream and that he had the power to change his stars. And Sir William did just that.
Edward “Butch” O’Hare was born into a not so good family on March 13, 1914. He was the poster child for a person that changed his stars. In November of 1939, his father, Edward O’Hare Sr., was shot and killed by Al Capone’s gunman. Edward Sr. worked for Mr. Capone as his attorney. After some time, he turned against him and helped the authorities convict him for income tax evasion. I am not sure about the events that happened to help Butch make a better and more admirable life than his father, but somehow, he did. One can only imagine his home life growing up with having a father that worked for one of the most noted and brutal crime bosses for that time. One would think that would not make him one of the popular kids that the others wanted to hang out with.
Butch O’Hare did not live to even see his 27th birthday. After completing naval aviation training in 1940, he became a fighter pilot aboard the USS Saratoga. In his brief career (two years) he flew several successful missions. He became the Navy’s first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of enemy bombers with limited ammunition, shooting down five bombers. His final mission was on Nov. 26, 1943, while he was leading the first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. His F6F Hellcat was shot down. His body and craft were never found.
Butch was a local hero to the city of Chicago where he was from. On Sept. 19, 1949, the Orchard Depot Airport was renamed the Chicago O/Hare International Airport in his honor. He lived a short but very memorable and respectable life.
Once again, I am more the question than the answer type of guy. But don’t you think the things we know to be true were taught to us by our surroundings growing up? Things like how we feel about racism, politics, our work ethic or how we treat our families. I wonder if our whole sense of what is right and wrong, good and bad, are in that group? There will always be exceptions to almost every rule, but don’t you find this to be true?
How did Butch O’Hare change his stars? Was there someone close to him that saw greatness in him? I would think that all of us had someone in our lives that did just that. That person that did not say things like, “the apple did not fall far from the tree,” or “He will never amount to anything.”
I think there are two lessons here we all can learn from this famous aviator.
1. The only person that limits our potential is ourselves. We can be or do almost anything we choose to do. Not that it will be easy, but we can and should be in control.
2. Who do we know that we could be the person that sees the greatness in them? Why can’t we be the one that can change a life from bad to good? What a blessing that would be.
On Oct. 29,1941, Winston Churchill gave a speech to his alma mater, the all-boys Harrow School. His very famous and often misquoted lines were,” This is the lesson: Never give in, never, never, never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.
In other words, always do the right thing even if the folks before us did not.
Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.