I drive by Al Capone every day.

Written on
November 10, 2019
by
Peter Hostrawser

I have and interesting drive into work each morning.  As I travel out of my mostly middle-class suburb of Brookfield, Illinois, I go through many interesting places on my way to Lombard.  Each morning, usually before the sun is up, I am driving past many historical places.  I turn past one of the oldest Polish restaurants in the state.  I go over a bridge in which I can see the entire Chicago skyline.  If I am lucky and it is the right time of the year, I can even witness the sun rising over the skyline.  It is beautiful.  

As I turn past the suburb of Westchester on my way out of Cook County, things get somber.  I edge through a piece of Hillside, Illinois.  I travel between two massive cemeteries.  On my left is Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery.  On my right is Mt. Carmel Cemetery.  I always think about the people buried there.  Who were they?  What did they do?  

If you don’t know, a very famous gangster is buried in Mt. Carmel Cemetery.  

That person is Al Capone.  The Capone family burial site can be seen from the street.  Every morning I look over to the moderate sized family marker as I drive by.  I think about all the things I know about Capone.  I think about the movies and the portrayals of the famous gangster as a villain and a hero.  I have visited many places Capone frequented in his life.  I have been to Cicero where he lived.  I recently spoke in Hot Springs, Arkansas where I learned he visited often.  I even took the family to Alcatraz this past summer where he did some time in prison.

I’m not here to judge Al Capone. I am here to learn from him.   

Sparing all the details about the Capone story (you can learn that on your own) I found out he died when he was 47 years old.  I am 47 years old right now.  So I decided to actually stop and visit his grave on the way back from work.  I don’t really know what made me stop.  Perhaps it was that this is a place that many tourists are urged to check out.  I mean, I drive by it every day, shouldn’t I be a tourist in my own state?  Regardless of the reason, I found myself standing over the Capone family grave site.  


Alphonse Capone's Grave in Mt. Carmel Cemetery

I haven’t been to a cemetery since I paid respects to my great uncle about 8 or so years ago.  It was a different feel here with Al Capone.  His gravestone was covered with flowers, a couple of fall trinkets and a half smoked cigar.  Obviously people were still visiting like I was and paying respects.  

I quietly said hi to Al Capone.

In my mind, I was thinking the entire time about what I would be remembered for.  I was thinking about how the man lying in the grave died at the same age as me.  I was thinking about my goals and aspirations in life.  It was sort of a mental clarity moment for me.  For me, I want to help as many people learn to become confident and to chase their dreams.  I want to help people find out how many great things they can do and learn in their life.  This is what I live for.  This is my why.  This is why I teach both in the system and outside of it.  I returned to my car with a clear mind.  

I quietly said goodbye to Al Capone and thanked him for the reminder that we need to help others while we are here on this earth.   


Peter Hostrawser
Creator of Disrupt Education
Change Outdated Traditional Educational Systems #Blogger | #KeynoteSpeaker | #Teacher | #Designthinker | #disrupteducation
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