The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

April 1, 2014

Famous last words: From the sacred to the profane

ENID, Okla. — “Good night Malaysian 370.”

Those, authorities now say, were the final words emanating from the cockpit of the doomed Boeing 777 jetliner, the fate of which remains unknown more than three weeks since its disappearance.

It was a routine response to a call from Kuala Lumpur radar control.

“Malaysian 370 contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal 9 good night.”

The controller was instructing the airliner’s pilots to call another radar center and giving them the proper radio frequency before wishing them good night.

There is nothing sinister in this phrase, nothing ominous.

Conspiracy theorists point to the fact the initial release of the last words from the cockpit of the doomed airliner was incorrect.

“All right good night,” were the erroneous words first released.

The bottom line is the world has no idea where the jet went down, or why. A desperate search has turned up no traces of the aircraft or its passengers and crew. In truth, we may never know, or at least not for quite some time.

“Good night Malaysian 370.”

Until the aircraft and its cockpit voice recorder are recovered, these will have to serve as the last words of those who went down with Malaysia flight 370.

Undoubtedly much more was said. In all there were 239 people on the flight, each with their own personality, their own unique life view.

There were undoubtedly some prayers, but there were likely some curses, as well.

If you could choose, what would you want your last words to be? Something profound, to be sure, something memorable, something at once touching and inspiring.

I have no idea what I’ll say. I hope it’s not something stupid. Which brings to mind the joke that no woman has ever died with the words “Hey guys, watch this,” on her lips.

John Adams died July 4, 1826, a few hours after his great political rival, Thomas Jefferson.

On his death bed, Adams is quoted as having said, “Oh yes, it is the glorious Fourth of July. It is a great day. It is a good day. God bless it. God bless you all.” He then fell unconscious. When he awakened later, he said “Thomas Jefferson,” and died.

His son, John Quincy Adams, died Feb. 21, 1848, as the result of a cerebral hemorrhage suffered in the U.S. Capitol building. “This is the last of Earth, I am content,” he said, just before expiring.

In August of 1942, Marines stormed the beaches of the island of Guadalcanal, but faced no opposition.

Later that day, however, Japanese forces staged a vicious counterattack.

The next morning, Marine Maj. Lew Walt encountered a young Marine, covered with blood, slumped in one corner of a foxhole. In the foxhole with him were two dead Japanese soldiers, one an officer. There were 11 more dead enemy soldiers surrounding the foxhole.

The Marine, Private 1st Class Edward H. Ahrens, was holding the dead Japanese officer’s sword, and he was dying.

As Walt leaned over Ahrens, he heard him say “The bastards tried to come over me last night. I guess they didn’t know I was a Marine,” then he died.

Many last utterances are expressions of love and devotion. “I love you, Sarah. For all eternity, I love you,” were the final words of President James K. Polk.

Baseball great Joe DiMaggio said “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn,” just before dying March 8, 1999, referring to his former wife and great love of his life, Marilyn Monroe.

Rutherford B. Hayes uttered a similar sentiment before passing away Jan. 17, 1893, saying “I know that I am going where Lucy is,” referring to his late wife.

Oliver Hardy, of the classic comedy team Laurel and Hardy, had no funny quip for his final utterance. Speaking to his wife just before dying Aug. 7, 1957, saying simply, “I love you.”

Love seems a common theme for the final words of the well-known. So is the Almighty.

“Goodbye, goodbye all. It’s God’s way. His will, not ours, be done,” said William McKinley as he succumbed to an assassin’s bullet Sept. 14, 1901.

The genius Michelangelo said, “I give my soul to God, my body to the earth and my worldly possessions to my nearest of kin, charging them to remember the sufferings of Jesus Christ,” just before death took him Feb. 18, 1564.

If I had to choose, I’d have a hard time picking between the words of singer Barry White, who said “Leave me alone, I’m fine,” or of suffragette and social activist Lucy Stone, who said, “Make the world better,” or of the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley, who said, “The best of all is, God is with us.”

But I think my pick of last words would have to be those of writer and poet Edgar Allen Poe, who said not something dark and poetic, like “nevermore,” but instead said simply, “Lord help my poor soul.”

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Never leave a child or a pet alone in a car

    With temperatures soaring to near or above 100, parents need to know they can’t leave their children alone in a locked vehicle. In 10 minutes, a vehicle’s temperature can climb 19 degrees. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, and it only takes a few minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated, according to Safe Kids USA.

    July 23, 2014

  • Will Rogers web.jpg Will Rogers Daily Telegrams 7-24-2014

    I am beginning to believe that Mellon is the poorest Treasurer we ever had. I would like to be Treasurer. Here would be my policy, and you see if it wouldn’t be the best thing for America:
    Save nothing, have nothing in there. Then Congress and the entire nation could have nothing in view only what they made themselves.
    A Candidate.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg State of the state: Things are not as good as they could be

    Draper wants to split Cali up into six separate states — Silicon Valley, around the San Francisco Bay Area; Central California, including cities like Bakersfield; West California, including Los Angeles and its suburbs; South California, including San Diego; North California, centered on Sacramento and Jefferson, in the far northern part of the state.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Voters have decisions to make in August races

    Democrats will have two runoffs to decide. One will be choosing their party’s nominee for state superintendent. Freda Deskin will face John Cox. The winner will face Republican nominee Joy Hofmeister in the November general election.
    The other race is for the party nominee to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn. Jim Rogers will face Connie Johnson. The winner will face Republican nominee U.S. Rep. James Lankford in November.

    July 22, 2014

  • Going postal

    Waukomis residents have the opportunity to have their voices heard in regard to the future of their post office.

    July 22, 2014 1 Story

  • New dorm

    Breaking ground on a new dormitory at Northern Oklahoma College Enid is another step in the evolution of the campus.

    July 20, 2014 1 Story

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Stars in our eyes

    We caught the vision when, in May of 1961, John F. Kennedy told Congress, and the world, that the space race was no longer to be so one-sided.
    “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” he said.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up logo.jpg Thumbs up for northwest Okla. communities, where net taxable sales figures are up

    Net taxable sales were up $1,917,774 in Enid, when compared to sales reported in July 2013. The increase amounted to a 2.6 percent increase in sales tax revenue for the city.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patsy Sorrels.tiff The key to God’s storehouse is in the giving

    Point being, there are a lot of hungry people out there who need to be fed the Bread of Life, and He needs to be served with a smile and a discerning heart.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • David Christy col. use clip.jpg Water, water everywhere?

    As Americans, we have taken water for granted far, far too long. We assume it will always be there, when we turn on the tap.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads