On January 17th, 1977, after a four-year moratorium against capital punishment in the United States, Gary Gilmore was executed in Utah. His death, along with his bold last words (“let’s do it”) prompted a media and pop culture feeding-frenzy, inspiring songs by The Police and British punk band the Adverts, a “Saturday Night Live” sketch and numerous books and films.
Thirty years ago today, Johnny Cash reportedly called Gilmore to sing him a final song. Shortly afterward, Gilmore ate his last meal: a hamburger, hard-boiled eggs, a baked potato, a few cups of coffee and three shots of whiskey. As I recall, shortly after 8:00 AM, he was executed by firing squad.
Since that day, over 700 Americans legally executed in this country, and this tonight in Texas, between 4:00 and 7:00 PM, there will likely be one more.