The VigilanceVoicE

                           Nov. 18, Sunday--Ground Zero Plus 68
                  "Do We Tuck Our Kids In With A Semper Vigilantes?"

                 I bought a new digital camera and went looking for symbols of where we are today in our attitudes.   The picture below symbolizes part of the problem.  It represents the "lingering terror."   Our children aren’t into the countdown—the “One Down, Two To Go!” headlines that play like tic-tac-toe, let’s kill ‘em all and wash our hands.  But they are into protecting.

            The fear within the children remains, at least in my thinking, as the key to resolving the war on Terrorism.   How are we going to fight the lingering memories of Terrorism that scar the tissue of the young minds?   Are we going to tell them “it’s okay now…it’s all over?”  Or, dress them up in gas masks?
            Or, worst of all, just go on without a blink?   Some may just want the rivers to smooth out, and float downstream—get back to normal—'forgetaboutit', as is often said here in New York City.
            I hope that we, as a nation, don’t let our children down.  I hope we remember the words “Semper Vigilantes” (Always Vigilant) when we tuck our children in bed at night.  I hope we don’t forget to tell them the stories of the Sentinels of Vigilance.

            I hope.  I hope.  I hope.

                             Cliff McKenzie                                           


 Nov. 17, Saturday--Ground Zero Plus 67

“Did  you hear the good news, Cliff.”   Sharda, the owner of the coffee shop I often frequent to write in the East Village, caught me off-guard with the question.
                “No.  What is it?”
                By the tone of her Voice, I thought perhaps she had won some lottery money, or her doctor had given her good news in the face of bad potential, or perhaps some glorious event in her life was about to be unfolded in my lap.
                “We killed him.  Bin Laden’s second in command.  The guy whose son married his daughter.”
                I took a few seconds to let the “good news” sink in.   She was elated.  I was complacent.
                “It’s not verified yet, but they think they got him,” she continued.   “CNN gave some  good information.  And there were Pentagon briefings.”
                “Oh,” I said.
               “I’m glad,” Sharda went on.  “This war on Terrorism is just about over.”

                “Yes,” I lied.   “Yes.”

                I lied in my affirmative response because the idea of killing Terrorists didn’t strike me as the end to the war on Terrorism.  In many ways, it was just the beginning.   I continue to believe the more of  “them” we kill, ten fold of their children and relatives will fall into line behind “them,” even more bent on destroying us—their “evil ones.”  
                Good News!  We killed ‘em!
                The words rattled around my Semper Vigilantes brain.   Long ago, the idea of killing made me feel like I’d accomplished something.  That was before the war in Vietnam ended in a thud, a whimper, and all the over one million bodies of both Americans and Vietnamese stacked up on both sides represented no victory.    Killing a single person seemed absolutely ludicrous to me as a solution to a war against a frenetic people who thrive on hate and use Terrorism to fuel that hatred.
                But Sharda was like so many who had grown tired of hearing the reports of a war against shadows; tired of the skulking ability of some third-world tyrant’s ability to escape all the technological and military power of the world’s strongest nation.    In perspective, bin Laden and his crew of horror-makers were  mere ants on an elephant’s ass, yet they were crippling the elephant.   They were causing its people and its government to look foolish in the eyes of a world that wondered why—with all its power and might—it couldn’t find a single human being and eliminate him.
               Good News!  We killed him!
                The joy of it didn’t have any effect on me.
                Ironically, as she was saying the words, I glanced down at the headlines of the Daily News laying on a table.   A full page headline screamed:
                                OMAR—"WE’LL BURY U.S."
                While one ear was hearing the “good news” of the war being closer to an end, the other was hearing the barking headlines warning that whatever Terrorism was left in bin Laden, it would be slammed into the heart of America in revenge.  This was the yin and yang of Terrorism.   The hunter bragging he had killed the hunted—the hunted vowing to kill the hunter.
                Complacency, I thought, comes in many forms.  This idea of killing Terrorism was certainly one of them.  
                I wondered if people were going to sleep sounder at night, thinking that by eliminating bin Laden and his gang,  Terrorism might just vanish from our lives? 
                I wondered how a Parent of Vigilance would tell his or her child that we had won the war by killing the “Evil One,” when the child, as all children are trained, has an innate incapacity to fathom “killing.”
                Would I, as a Parent of Vigilance, want to tell my child that Terrorism had been extricated because we had killed its leader?    Would I want to leave myself vulnerable to my child’s sense of right and wrong, good and bad, trust and distrust by making such a statement, and then, just when I thought I was safe,  suffer the impact of one of bin Laden’s children, or uncles or aunts or brothers or sisters attacking us in retaliation?  How would I explain that Terrorism was an octopus—and that by cutting off one of its legs, seven others still survived?
                Of course, the paradox that bin Laden represented all Terroristic acts was another issue.  Killing him and his band of horror-seekers would be like swatting noxious mosquitoes.   What about other Terrorists around the world?   Would they cower in the wake of one Terrorist’s death when the goal of most Terrorists was to die for their cause—as a martyr—a symbol of their “Vigilance” against the “evil Western Empire?”  I didn’t think so.  One bully pops up to replace the one who stumbled.  Bullies are blind, the last I knew—blinded by hate and revenge and the desire for attention at anyone’s expense.
                These thoughts kept me from reacting with glee when Sharda gave me the “good news.”   Quite the contrary, I stood with a dumb look on my face.   The shock of people thinking that Terrorism could be destroyed was like pretending that Hate, or Greed, or Lust or Envy, or Jealousy, or Rage could be destroyed.
                I’m not a pessimist.  I am a firm believer that all of the Deadly Sins can be put into check with Courage, Conviction and Action, but I am the last man on earth to contend they can be destroyed.   Human nature owns these emotions and their attendant “evils.”   The best we can do is control, manage, fight them.  But destroy them?   Hardly possible.   Hardly imaginable.  Yet so many wanted it over.   They wanted the yoke lifted off their shoulders—they wanted the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency to be gone.
                The great “terror” I believed was that our country and the news media was touting the “end of the war”--the end of “Terrorism.”   I thought it a vast disservice to the children of this country to infer, imply and suggest to their parents that they were safe from the claws of Terrorism by the simple act of beheading one of its servants.
                So what do I see as the solution?   For me, it was quite complex.    It meant I had to  keep pounding out the need for Parents of Vigilance in the face of more complacency.       
               I saw a thick wall of resistance gathering on the horizon, making it harder and harder to get people to think about protecting themselves when the false shroud of security would be pulled over them by the idea that Terrorism could be “killed.”
              It meant I might be the lone Voice in the wind—shouting “wolf!”   But if I didn’t do that, I would become Complacent myself.   I would lose my impetus to fight the shadows of Terrorism.
              So I pounded my laptop.  
             But my fingers felt heavy on the keys.


                 Cliff McKenzie—New York City Combat Correspondent—11/17/01


                                    Nov. 16, Friday--Ground Zero Plus 66
                          "CHILDREN OF VIGILANCE" CONCEIVED
                            AMIDST THE RUBBLE OF DESTRUCTION

            A very close friend of ours excitedly took us to the side the other day and whispered the good news in our ears.  She was pregnant.   Her face glowed.  Her eyes sparkled.
            “How long?”  I asked.
            “About eight weeks,” she replied.
            I asked her if she could remember the exact date of conception.  She didn’t know for sure, but the baby would be due in the second week of June—just nine months after the events of  Nine Eleven.
            At the time, I didn’t correlate the dates.   I looked at her two children, both wonderful, full-of-life balls of energy.  They were ready for a brother or sister.  This particular friend was indeed a Parent of Vigilance.  She and her husband worked diligently with their children, giving them tools and systems to fight the yoke of Fear, and Intimidation and Complacency that attacks so many children without warning, without preparation.   I knew the addition to their family would be given every opportunity to excel as a human being.
            Yesterday, I was talking to a friend of mine, telling him about how our young friend was pregnant, and how happy I was for her, her husband, and their two children.   He nodded and reminded me that life was filling the gap from the destruction of September 11.  He told me Nature was hard at work to fill the void.
            The more I thought about it, the more closely my young friend’s conception date was tied to the events of the Second Tuesday in September.   I thought about the Sentinels of Vigilance reaching down and touching her shoulder, and whispering in her ear:  “Life lives after death.  This new life will be stronger, more prepared, more vigilant than ever before in history.  We will be your godparents.  We will protect you and your child."
          I thought about how wonderful it would be if all the children conceived on or near the date of September 11 were given an extra blessing by the Sentinels of Vigilance.   I hoped the spirit of the Sentinels of Vigilance  touched all the  parents’ shoulders, whispered to them that “Life lives after death,” and reminded them that their pregnancy was “magical,” part of the resurrection of “life after death.”   I hoped the parents of all children conceived in the midst of Terror’s attempt to smother life know that the seeds growing within the mothers had been planted by the Sentinels of Vigilance—that those thousands of parents who died were standing beside the pregnancies, rooting and cheering them on.
            As I thought about all the children conceived out of the smoke and ashes and debris of September 11, I began to envision them as “Children of Vigilance.”  I saw them brought to the earth out of the smoke and rubble with the purpose of representing symbols of strength that we, as a people and a nation, will not stop creating Courage, Conviction and Action in the face of Terrorism’s Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
          I saw, in my mind’s eye, all the children conceived after the holocaust forming a circle of life around the empty, gutted physical hole that ripped open the womb of the earth on that fateful Second Tuesday of September.   As I thought about all the thousands of children conceived during that time surrounding the gaping crater, with spears of smoke still rising from its bowels, I could hear their Voices singing--not a song of lament, but, instead a lullaby of Hope and Faith for the procurement of peace not just in their lives, but in the lives of all children, everywhere.
          As the children sang—these children born from the rubble of the holocaust—I imagined the gaping hole being filled with new soil.   Instead of twisted metal and shattered concrete, I saw a lush green field of grass appearing, laced with flowers of all vast variety and color.  Butterflies danced and bees buzzed and ants crawled and birds sang as the scene unfolded.  And the children—the Children of Vigilance—of all colors, creeds, religions—ran and played freely and safely on the former scar that eviscerated America’s innocence.
         Watching over the children were their parents, and, if you looked closely, you could see their godparents, the Sentinels of Vigilance.  They were looking down, smiling, cheering, rooting their progeny on, urging them  to carry the message of vigilance out into the world, to stand as living symbols that we are all “United, In Death and Life!”

     Go to November 15 "Marvel Comics Tribute to the Super Heroes of 9-11"

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design