Don’t Give Up the Ship

You’ve probably heard a version of the story of Captain James Lawrence, the American naval officer who, during a battle in the War of 1812, reportedly told his men “Don’t give up the ship!” as he lay dying of his wounds.

In my opinion, this seems part glorious and part stupid, with the size of the parts depending on the details of the story. As there are multiple accounts of what really occurred, I can’t assign percentages to the glory or the stupidity in his final imperative.

But when I stand on the shore and watch a captain navigate a ship across the expanse of the Atlantic, I sometimes imagine that captain never wanting to “give up the ship,” never wanting to set foot on shore again. And in my imagining, it is all glory.

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