today is a good day to die

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A c. 1881–1885 photograph of the Oglala Lakota chief Low Dog, who was reported to have first used the phrase “this is a good day to die” in 1881

The phrase is frequently attributed to the Oglala Lakota war leader Crazy Horse (c. 1842 – 1877),[1] though this is inaccurate as the earliest published reference, in the 14 August 1881 edition of the Leavenworth Times, attributes it to the Oglala Lakota chief Low Dog (c. 1846 – 1894).[2]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • Hyphenation: to‧day is a good day to die

Proverb[edit]

today is a good day to die

  1. An expression of willingness, even eagerness, to give one's life for a cause.
  2. An expression indicating that one should not live with any regrets, or tasks left undone.
    • [2002, Dave Collins, “Gains”, in Please Remain Seated until the Ride has Come to a Complete Stop: Dave Collins Memoir, Lincoln, Neb.: Writer's Showcase, iUniverse, ISBN 978-0-595-21342-9, pages 86–87:
      To be given the strength to live without regrets, without the feeling that you should be doing something more, something different. To make today a good day to die. To gain fulfillment not with length of time, but with quality.]
    • 2006, Dan Millman, “On Chapter Four: The Sword is Sharpened”, in Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior: A Companion to the Book that Changes Lives, Tilburon, Calif.: H. J. Kramer; Novato, Calif.: New World Library, ISBN 978-1-932073-21-8, page 111:
      The main thing is to die after having truly lived, after leaving behind a contribution. Socrates lived fully and was perfectly content to let go when the time came. As the Native American saying goes, "Today is a good day to die."
    • 2008, John Izzo, “The First Secret: Be True to Your Self”, in The Five Secrets You must Discover before You Die, San Francisco, Calif.: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, ISBN 978-1-57675-475-7, page 43:
      In the native tradition of the Pacific Northwest there is a saying: "Today is a good day to die." What it means, of course, is that today is a good day to live completely. If you were lying on that hospital bed right now, what would be on that short list?

References[edit]

  1. ^ See, for example, Kenneth Paul Kramer (1988), “American Indian Attitudes towards Death”, in The Sacred Art of Dying: How World Religions Understand Death, Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, ISBN 978-0-8091-2942-3, page 169: “One of the best known death songs was sung by the Sioux warrior Chief Crazy Horse just before he entered into battle: / Hoka hey! Follow me / Today is a good day to fight / Today is a good day to die.”
  2. ^ The phrase appeared in an interview with Low Dog which was in a newspaper despatch sent from Fort Yates, North Dakota, USA, on 30 July 1881 and published in the Leavenworth Times two weeks later: see Richard G. Hardorff, editor , quoting Low Dog (2003), “The Low Dog Interview”, in Indian Views of the Custer Fight: A Sourcebook, Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 978-0-8061-3690-5, pages 63 and 65: “We retreated until our men got all together, and then we charged upon them. I called to my men, ‘This is a good day to die: follow me.’”