today is a good day to die

“They came on us like a thunderbolt …. 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.’ We massed our men, and that no man should fall back, every man whipped another man’s horse and we rushed right upon them.” – Low Dog, Lakota Warrior, June 25, 1876 (during the Battle of Little Bighorn)

I was visiting the Bighorns to crew my buddy who was racing in the Bighorn Trail 100 (100 mile trail run).  On my flight / drive to Dayton, WY, I listened to a few documentaries about the Battle of Little Bighorn (aka Custer’s Last Stand).

In an oversimplification of  events leading up to the Battle, the U.S. government signed The Treaty of Fort Laramie with the Lakota (and other Native American tribes) in 1868 acknowledging that the Black Hills permanently belonged to the Native Americans.  But that treaty was effectively broken by the U.S. shortly after Custer’s Gold Rush in the Black Hills.  In 1876, after the Native Americans rejected the U.S.’s small cash offer, General Sheridan ordered that General Custer and the 7th regiment physically remove the Native Americans from that land (and onto reservations).  Custer and ~200 men attempted to launch a surprise attack on Sitting Bull and the Lakotas on June 25, 1876.  But the Lakota warriors were masters of their craft and they were not going to let the U.S. government take their land from their families without a fight.  So they prepared and they were ready.

The result was one of the quickest and deadliest U.S. defeats to date.   Prior to the battle, Low Dog, a Lakota warrior, told his men to follow him into battle and “that today is a good day to die”.

That quote / proverb resonates with me because I think in order to truly be great (as a parent, athlete, businessman) you have to be approach each “battle” with the belief that you have no regrets about the outcome because you did everything you could to prepare for that moment.  Today always should be, a good day to die.

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