I'm sure this a pretty fair question for us to ask ourselves, especially as we grow older. And of course allied to this would be, 'What kind of son, daughter, friend, husband, wife, grandfather, grandmother, colleague, neighbour, church member etc, etc... have I been?' The list can go on and on. But how, and for what, would I WANT to be remembered?
A term often used during my social work training but not so often heard today is 'The Master Status'. This sums up the main thing we often associate with someone, especially from the past. And of course it can be either complimentary... or sadly otherwise. For example, 'Oh yes, I remember Mrs so and so. She was always such a difficult woman!'
So with this in mind, please let me share with you the following...
Back in 1930's America he had earned the nickname 'Easy Eddie', the crooked lawyer who had continually managed to keep the ruthless gangster, Al Capone,
out of jail. Time and again he successfully manipulated the true facts of a
situation for the perpetual and untold benefit of his brutal boss. And of course he was well rewarded for his efforts.
However, at the height of his power, and notoriety, he began to wonder how all
this would play out in the life of his son, whom he dearly loved. What kind of
legacy would he leave him? Surely it wouldn't be a good name or wholesome example. So he made a courageous decision to distance himself from his
previous lifestyle and even went as far as testifying against Capone in court.
This of course was to sign his own death warrant as some time later inevitably
he was gunned down by Chicago mobsters.
His son Butch however grew up proud of his father's attempts to redeem the
family name and reputation through this final act of heroism, and in time he
became a WW2 fighter pilot.
In February 1942 Butch intercepted a squadron of Japanese bombers heading
straight to the American aircraft carrier, USS Lexington.
He attacked them, thus defending the ship single-handedly.
This conspicuous act of outstanding bravery led him to become the first
naval aviator to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Yet sadly he was
to be killed in aerial combat a year later at the age of 29.
Now you may well wonder where all this is leading, especially as there's little chance you will have heard all this before. But the true story of Eddie and Butch will have special meaning if you ever fly to Chicago. This is because there's every likelihood you'll land at O'Hare International Airport... named in honour of Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare.
Of course, it's not only after death that our example will prove important... it's here and now. Surely we need to live each day aiming to honour and please God. And through this we'll undoubtedly influence others for good. As a result, a fine name and reputation will live on after us, the true value of which God emphasises in Scripture...
'A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed
is better than silver or gold.'
So the question, and the challenge, remains... 'How do I want to be remembered?