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The Pilot and the Printer
February 27, 2017
Chicago is a city rich in history. As a Chicago native, I’ve learned a lot about our landmarks growing up. I know the Tribune Tower has famous artifacts built right into it. The Mart was the world’s largest building when it opened, and the Willis (SEARS) Tower the tallest when erected.
I know the Chicago Cubs are the world’s greatest baseball team (as of 2016) and the Congress Hotel is probably haunted. What I’m embarrassed to have known nothing about, though, was Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s namesake.
A few years back, before my time at Cushing, we printed acrylic signs that are displayed beneath a replica F4F-3 Wildcat at O’Hare Airport (which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called, “The best babysitting area in the airport”). The signs along the base’s perimeter tell the story of a war hero who once flew a plane like the one on display. Last month, Account Manager Christine Fetting, was asked to coordinate a display case in that same area of O’Hare. Now was my chance to learn how Chicago’s largest airport got its name.
O’Hare is the busiest airport in the world (which, if you’ve ever had a flight in or out, you know.) Opened in 1955, O’Hare Airport was named for WWII naval aviator Lt. Cmdr. Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, a war hero who fought against nine Japanese bombers, single-handedly and low on ammunition, saving his aircraft carrier. For this mission, he received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He went on to serve his country, and died on a mission in 1943.
OK, so where does Cushing fit in? Turns out the display case Christine was working on was for an event where the City of Chicago would commemorate the 75th anniversary of O’Hare’s heroic mission. The display case holds a replica of O’Hare’s Medal of Honor, and portraits and plaques we printed for the exhibit.
I had the opportunity to attend the event and take a few photos. I walked into Terminal 2 and was guided to the replica plane by flashing lights and the sound of a band playing. After the shortest airport security line I have ever been through (and will ever go through), I came out on the other side of the plane for the ceremony.
Before things got started, I was able to walk through the crowd (I was told about 200 people were in attendance) to check out all the work we did for this exhibit. Our team truly contributed a huge part to a spectacular display. Things got started and I found a place to stand, out of the way of news crews. There was a podium right in front of the acrylic prints we produced (so cool!).
Ginger Evans Commissioner of the Department of Aviation came up to announce the speakers. Edward M. Burke Alderman of the 14th Ward and Vice Admiral Philip Hart Cullom Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics told O’Hare’s story.
They were followed by O’Hare’s nephew, Dr. Butch O’Hare Palmer, one of the 30 family members who were in attendance that day (many named after Butch O’Hare in some way or another). Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave his remarks, and the ceremony ended with the City Council declaring February 20, 2017 as Lt. Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare Day.
I left O’Hare airport that morning with an appreciation for a hero I once knew nothing about, but also for the work our team does at Cushing. Not all of our projects are part of ceremonies like this, but I see work around this shop that amazes me every day. If nothing else, I learned something new about a Chicago institution that will stick with me forever.
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