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The 13th 9-11 Factor:
It Isn't Over Yet

Cliff McKenzie

GROUND ZERO PLUS 1164 DAYS,--New York, NY, Friday, November 19, 2004--Closure completes its course in a number of ways. For victims of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist attack, one such suture in an emotional gash from losing loved ones is financial compensation. To date, $7 billion has been paid to the victims of 9-11.

Thirteen families of the victims on Nine-Eleven have refused compensation
Thirteen families of the victims of Nine-Eleven have refused compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund

But 13 families and loved ones have refused to accept any compensation either from the airlines or the government. They cannot put a price tag on the deaths of those they loved. They cannot return to the day the Beast of Terror ripped part of their souls from them.

Following the attack, the U.S. Congress created the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund designed to award the families and loved ones financial remuneration for their grievous loss.

Of the 2,973 death claims, all but thirteen have been settled either by the government fund or pending litigation against the airlines. The current payout by the fund exceeds $7 billion.

Only thirteen families elected to turn their backs on financial compensation to heal part of the 9-11 wounds.

For three years the head of the compensation fund, Kenneth Feinberg, a Washington lawyer, met with hundreds of families to work out fair and equitable compensation for their loss.

According to the 114-page report with 300 supporting documents filed with Justice Department yesterday, Mr. Feinberg's role as "King Solomon" of the Compensation Fund came to an official end yesterday.

Kenneth Feinberg appointed "special master" in charge of the Victim's Compensation Fund
Kenneth Feinberg appointed "special master" in charge of the Victim's Compensation Fund

During the course of negotiations with the families, it was Feinberg's decision as to whom got what. Many family members and loved ones claimed inequities in how the money was doled out, but in the end, all but thirteen families found some form of "satisfaction" either from the fund or the option to sue the airlines.

The thirteen families that opted not to sue the airlines or take money from the fund said there was far too much grief and pain in filling out the forms and going through the administration process to receive funds, a requirement that Mr. Feinberg could not waive.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Feinberg met numerous times with the thirteen families, urging them to file before the deadline.

Compensation was guaranteed at $250,000 with an average projected settlement of $1.3 million per person. The highest award was over $8 million.

The thirteen who sought no form of compensation represent less than a half a percent of the 2,973 confirmed deaths from the Terrorist attack.

A total of 2,880 families availed themselves of the fund's compensation. The balance of 80 families (less the 13 who have chosen not to file for benefits from the fund or sue the airlines) have the option of litigation against the airlines.

The Compensation Fund was designed to avoid crippling lawsuits against the airlines, who had little control over the events of 9-11.

Thirteen is a unique number. To many it represents "unfortunate" or "bad" luck.

But the events of September 11, 2001, far exceed the words "bad luck" or "misfortune." Those events were tragic, horrible, devastating moments when entire worlds were collapsed and a new era of "Terrorism" washed upon the soil and souls of Americans.

In a way, the thirteen families who refused to accept any compensation for the attacks symbolize that human loss cannot be quantified.

How much is every living cell in a human body worth?

How much is a hug or a smile or kiss or a word of loving kindness spoken by a husband, mother, wife, father, grandfather, uncle, aunt, cousin, niece, nephew, son or daughter worth?

Thirteen families could not put a price tag on those priceless commodities. They couldn't look the Beast of Terror in the face and have a cash register try and compensate for the dismembered limbs, the chunks of flesh exploding or the screams of agony or acts of final heroism that occurred on the gloomy, horrid morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Thirteen Colonies chose to fight and die for their children's freedom
Thirteen Colonies chose to fight and die for their children's freedom

Ironically, a few hundred years ago, thirteen colonies could not put a price tag on Tyranny and Oppression. They chose to fight and die for the rights of their children to be free. They fought the Beast of Terror as one body, with everything to gain and only life to lose.

I'd like to think that the thirteen families who chose not to receive compensation from the fund or airlines represent the ultimate in being Families of Vigilance.

While their loved ones did not chose to fight and die for freedom and liberty that dark Tuesday in September, they nevertheless did become ultimate Patriots of Liberty.

The deaths of 2,973 people on the second Tuesday of September, 2001, hallmarked a point in American history as important as Concord. On April 19, 1775, King George's troops marched to Concord to seize arms and supplies the colonists were amassing for the impending revolution. Outnumbered and surrounded, the colonists started to disperse peacefully to allow the British troops to search and seize their homes when a shot rang out.

The Minute Man Monument honors the Minute Men
The Minute Man Monument in Concord, MA. honors the Minute Men who were greatly outnumbered by the British in their first battle in 1775

No one knows exactly from which side--colonists or British--the shot came, but it has been termed "the shot heard 'round the world." Fathers and sons were killed that day in a battle that wasn't supposed to be.

September 11, 2001 was a "shot heard 'round the world." Terrorism up until that moment was not a global concern of all nations. It was a spot-by-spot, nation-by-nation, faction-by-faction brush fire that swept rapidly through a Japanese subway or an African state and then died, or seemed to die.

When it popped up again with another face or in another country, it wasn't linked to its allies thousands of miles away where in a jungle or desert it was rearing its ugly head and maiming and butchering all in its path.

September 11, 2001 changed that.

All the various appendages of the Beast of Terror suddenly came together. Its legs from the Middle East, its arms from Asia, its head from Africa, its torso from Europe--dramatically, in a swirl of smashing steel and concrete and at the expense of 2,973 victims, the Beast of Terror took universal form.

On Nine-Eleven, the world saw the Beast of Terror manifested
On Nine-Eleven, the world saw the Beast of Terror manifested

The world saw the Beast as the one who was killing and maiming senselessly and voraciously in all lands, and who wore the countenance of all ethnicity, all various shields of beliefs and convictions.

At Concord, would-be Americans saw the Beast of Terror come to life. It stormed into their homes, tearing and shredding their living quarters in search of weapons, ammunition, gunpowder. It sought to oppress and tyrannize, to hold a nation in check through Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.

Not much has changed.

Terrorism in 2004 still seeks to induce in its victims a paralysis based on suffocating an individual's, a state's, a nation's Courage with Fear, its Convictions with Intimidations, and its dedication to doing what is right for the future of its children to a state of powerless Complacency, a state of helpless fright over the unknown.

Only Terrorism made a giant mistake on September 11, 2001 when it attacked the innocent, the helpless citizens of this nation and other nations who were a part of the holocaust.

Instead of further fracturing the will and resolve of the victims, September 11, 2001, galvanized it.

After Nine-Eleven, Americans stood up as the Minute Men did at Concord in 1775
After Nine-Eleven, Americans stood up as the Minute Men did at Concord in 1775

Americans stood up as they did at Concord in 1775 and retaliated against the Beast of Terror. They chose not to shirk the duty of protecting the future, or to abdicate that responsibility to the United Nations or to wait until there was a consensus among all nations that "waging war" against Terrorism was the right thing to do.

In 1775, the minutemen of Concord didn't send ships to France and Germany and Russia seeking permission to fight the oppression of King George. They took that authority from their children whom they believed had the right to be free from the bonds of all forms, degrees and characters of Terrorism.

They fought for freedom against Terrorism then. The price, if any, was their lives. But there was a much more expensive price to be paid if they didn't--and that would be continued servitude, ongoing enslavement to Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the triads of Terrorism.

The pain of attributing a dollar value is too painful for the thirteen families who chose not be be compensated
The pain of attributing a dollar value is too painful for the thirteen families who chose not to be compensated

So, it isn't by accident I believe that the thirteen families who chose to not be compensated either by the government or by the airlines for the deaths of their loved ones that they cannot equate money to human life.

For them, the pain of attributing a dollar value is so painful that it exceeds all comprehension.

This is not to disparage those who accepted compensation, or to denigrate their right to "human value loss." Hundreds of wives and children were left without fathers to help support them. It simply means that the "pain of loss" sometimes exceeds any monetary label for the families of those who are victimized by the Beast of Terror.

In the case of September 11, 2001, thirteen such families felt this way. And, I believe their lack of "monetary compensation" has been deeply overridden by a far more important compensation.

These thirteen families are the families whose "shot was heard 'round the world."

Mariane Pearl wife of Daniel Pearl refused  compensation
Mariane Pearl, wife of Daniel Pearl (journalist slain in Pakistan) was eligible for compensation, is one of the thirteen refusing monies

In a pure sense, the compensation for these families is the recognition that Terrorism is now considered to be a global, universal enemy, one that must be hunted down and destroyed in all nations.

Today, the war in Iraq is symbolic of the battle against the Beast of Terror. While critics of it may rail about this and that, in the end, Americans are fighting the Beast of Terror, not insurgents.

They are telling the world of Terrorism that any attacks on America, and any threats on the rest of the world by Terrorism, will be met with ultimate force of arms.

Prior to the War on Terrorism, a Terrorist might feel a sense of impunity in attacking a city, a village, a home, a nation because no one was willing to stand up to the "Global Terrorist" and deliver wrath upon its head.

That's all changed.

The "shot heard 'round the world" on September 11, 2001, has become a universal commitment by all nations to retaliate with unified force against the elements of Terrorism.

Thirteen of the Sentinels of Vigilence hovering over Ground Zero have no price tag on their heads
Thirteen of the Sentinels of Vigilance hovering over Ground Zero have no price tag on their heads

And, while all the victims of Nine Eleven play a vital part in this shift of global perspective, thirteen of them stand out.

These thirteen refused to put a price tag on the cost of Terrorism.

They refused to participate in "compensation" for the pain and suffering the Beast of Terror caused, for there isn't enough money in the world to justify or account for the horror of indiscriminate elimination of human life.

Among the Sentinels of Vigilance who hover over Ground Zero, thirteen of them stand out. They are the ones with no price tag on their heads.


Go To Story November 17: "Are You A Parent... Of Vigilance Neglect?"



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