A person’s final words are usually interesting, even if it’s just “hey, watch this!”
One famous final quote was made on July 4th by John Adams, the man who had the unenviable duty of trying to fill George Washington’s shoes as president. Just before dying in 1826, the founding father allegedly said “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”
Actually, he just mumbled “Thomas Jefferson.” Historians likely helped him fill in the blanks.
Adams, like a lot of politicians, was wrong. Thomas Jefferson died hours earlier, also on July 4, 1826. It was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That famous document, which pretty much kicked off the whole America thing, was pushed by Adams and largely written by Jefferson.
Jefferson’s last words were “Is it the Fourth? I resign my spirit to God, my daughter, and my country.”
Not everyone can be respected presidents like Adams and Jefferson. Some people turn out to be nothing more than convicted death row inmates.
The state of Texas, which just a few days ago executed its 500th criminal, keeps a database of final words. California also tracks the final words of 14 inmates executed since 1978.
As might be expected, the final words of killers are not as lofty as those of dying presidents, though some try.
Richard Cobb, executed in Texas April 25 for fatally shooting someone he abducted during a convenience store robbery, is alleged to have said, “Life is death, death is life. I hope that someday this absurdity that humanity has come to will come to and an end. Life is too short. I hope that anyone that has negative energy towards me will resolve that. Life is too short to harbor feelings of hatred and anger. That’s it.”
But, as in the Adams case, those were not the actual final words spoken.
According to reporters at the execution, Cobb, after being given the lethal drug that killed him, said, “Wow! That is great. That is awesome! Thank you, warden! Thank you (expletive) warden!”
If you keep a database of “final words,” you ought to make sure it is accurate.
Likely more truthful are the final words of convicted killer Rodrigo Hernandez, executed by lethal injection in Texas January 2012.
“This stuff stings, man almighty,” said Hernandez.
Jesse Hernandez, not related to Rodrigo Hernandez from what I can gather, included “Go Cowboys!” in his final statement in 2012, which ended with “I can feel it, taste it, not bad.”
Another likely incorrect statement is that of Newton Anderson, executed in Texas on Feb. 22, 2007. The database records his final words as being “I am sorry. That’s it, goodbye. I love you Irene, I love you sis.”
But CNN reports his final words as being “I am guilty. I don’t deny that … They had good evidence. Witnesses saw me. What can I say?”
Honesty is the best policy, even when the truth cannot set you free.