Who while sailing and being tossed about by waves and wind suddenly confronted by water over the bow of his small vessel would assure his only companion with the words, “I will never be drowned”? Is this a man of supreme courage and confidence or does he just envision the future with a different demise?
We all know the man that spoke these words but few know the story. Today we recall his other more famous words, for he is an American hero but on this day he was just a 17 year old boy out for a sail. The sailing partner on this frightful day, fifteen year old Isaac Gridley, recalls the afternoon had turned cloudy but that did not deter our hero and Gridley from casting off for an afternoon sailing on Long Island Sound.
The joy of sailing soon turned to a battle of two boys against the sea. The boom of thunder and flashing bolts of lightning gave Gridley reason to look for guidance and comfort from his older companion.
The words, “I will never be drowned” may not have offered Gridley great comfort but they did form the opinion his sailing mate as confident. Here in the middle of this storm our hero revealed what he believed, death at sea was not God’s plan for him.
As evidence and proof of his certainty to survive he exposed to Gridley a blemish on the neck. A blemish once described by a childhood friend as “a large hair mole”. At the time this was taken as a sign of bad luck but with the presence of a hair the meaning was far more ominous.
Our hero’s playmate’s not unlike any generation would sometimes tease about the mole and assure him he would be hanged. Apparently our hero held to this belief. Hence, when safely ashore and Gridley asked how he could be so certain he would not drown the reply, “I am to be hung,” were the word he heard from his sailing partner on that day, Nathan Hale.
June 6, 2012 is the 257th birthday of Nathan Hale. Today Coventry, CT is engaged in a fundraising effort to remember and honor our State hero with a Statue on Veteran’s Memorial Green. For more information on this effort click this link: http://www.nathanhalememorial.com/index.php/friends/
Below is the future site of the memorial and an artist rendering of the statue.
The above story is sourced here from “The Life and Death of America’s First Spy Nathan Hale” written by M. William Phelps and published by Thomas Dunn Books. This is just one of many fascinating facts on the life of our native son written brilliantly by M. William Phelps.
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