Al Capone’s lawyer was nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was a slick, successful lawyer whose smooth, professional skills continually kept Capone from being imprisoned for his organized crime activities. For his skill, Easy Eddie was paid lavishly and protected like royalty. He lived the high life. He was likely a co-participant in illicit activity himself. Whatever his motivation, Eddie went to the authorities in 1931 and came clean about Scarface Capone, testifying against the mob. That decision most likely led to his losing his life, being gunned down on the streets of Chicago eight years after testifying against his former boss.
Eddie, also known as EJ, had a son. That son went to the Naval academy, graduated, and due to the attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was dispatched from the U.S. Naval Training Center in San Diego, CA, on December 8, 1941, to join the fight in the Pacific Theatre. Butch O’Hare would go on to win the Medal of Honor and be killed in action, the victim of friendly fire, about two years later. Chicago’s main airport, O’Hare International, is named for Easy Eddie’s son. The O’Hare name no longer was inextricably linked to crime, but to valor instead.
While some have worked hard to build the case that Easy Eddie had a change of heart (among them, Frank J. Wilson, the Treasury Department investigator who called Eddie one of his best undercover men in bringing Capone down on tax evasion), it matters little concerning the moral of the story. It was Butch’s valor and patriotic service that redeemed the family name and led the “second city” to rename its airport “O’Hare.” Butch overcame the dubious shadow cast by his father’s activities to restore honor to his surname. Yet, it was the surprise attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, and the loss of 2,350 lives at Pearl Harbor mobilized Butch and so many others just like him.
Likewise, it was Jesus’ appearance as a man and vicarious death on the cross that redeemed mankind. As all are sinners (Rom. 3:23; 5:12), all needed the efforts made by Jesus to give us the opportunity to overcome the ignominy of our past. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son through the seed of woman to redeem us all (Gal. 4:4-5). His Son, though fully human (cf. Phil. 2:7-8), was unlike the rest of humanity in that He never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21). And when we take His name, the name of Christ, we can overcome whatever dark shadows hung over our past.