There are many things which mortal men
can see and learn from. But until he meets it,
no one sees what is to come or his own fate.
Those who know history will remember James V. Forrestal, the nation's first secretary of defense. On this day in 1949, he started copying lines from "The Chorus from Ajax," a poem by Sophocles.
Woe to the mother in her close of day,
Woe to her desolate heart and temples gray,
When she shall hear
Her loved one’s story whispered in her ear!
"Woe, woe!" will be the cry–
No quiet murmur like the tremulous wail
Of the lone bird, the querulous nightingale ...
Halfway through the word "nightingale," Forrestal went to the window of his 16th-floor room at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Moments later, he landed on a third-floor roof.
He tried to hang himself first. Or he was strangled first. Fifty-eight years later, it's still unclear.
Better to die, and sleep
The never-ending sleep, than linger on,
And dare to live, when the soul’s life is gone.