THE VigilanceVoicev 

      Nov. 3 -- Ground Zero Plus 53            
"Mommy, Daddy, What's A Terrorist?"

What is your response when your children ask you, "Mommy or Daddy, what’s a terrorist?"
I thought long about this answer. It could be a quick one that leaves a child walking in the shallowness of a hurried explanation, or, it could be an answer that provides depth and learning and wisdom about how to live life without fear or intimidation or suffer the pangs of complacency.  Here is some suggested dialog.

      "Mommy, Daddy, what’s a terrorist?"
      "Imagine a big, deep dark hole. Inside it are all the bogeymen you can imagine. Tell us about some bogeymen you can imagine?"
     "The kind that hide in the closet at night?"
     "What other kinds?"
     "The ones that come out when it’s dark?"
     "Okay, how about some more…let’s say, what makes you most afraid?"
     "The dark, Mommy. And the shadows, Daddy. They’re really scary."
     "Well, terrorism is about being afraid. Terrorists are bogeymen. They like to sneak out when you aren’t looking and scare you. They like to make people cry and be sad and worry."
     "They aren’t nice people, are they?"
     "No. Because they don’t care who they scare. They scare little children, old people…babies. They don’t care, that’s what a terrorist is."
    "And they want to hurt people, too, don’t they?"
     "They don’t care who they hurt. Do you know what a bully is?"
     "Kind of, I think."
     "Tell us what you think a bully is."
     "Like, somebody who pushes you around. Or takes your toys. Makes you cry?"
     "Very good. What else do bullies like to do?"
      "They like to pick on people smaller than they are."
      "That’s right."
      "And hurt their feelings."
      "Yes, and some terrorists want to hurt people very badly. Sometimes they make things explode and fall down, and hurt lots of people just to make a point."
     "What point?"
     "They want to show people they are strong by hurting the weak. Just like a bully. And they think that making people afraid of them gives them power."
      "Like, if I was afraid of them, they would win the fight."
     "Yes. All bogeymen use fear to win their game. They think if people are afraid of them, they are strong and powerful."
     "But how do you not be afraid of a bully, Mommy, Daddy?"
     "First, you think about what fear is all about. When you’re afraid of something, it has power over you. Like if you are afraid of a big kid taking your toy, or feel small, don’t you? Like you can’t do anything to protect yourself?"
     "Yeah, I felt like that."
      "What if instead of being afraid of a bully, you saw a bully as an ant pretending to be an elephant? Think about it? When people are mean and cruel to other people, they really aren’t big are they? Aren’t they really small people?"
     "Yes, but I’m still afraid of them?"
     "You're not afraid of them, are you, but of what they can do to you, right?"
     "Yes. I don’t want them to take my toy and break it. Or push me. Or call me names. That hurts me."
     "What if a bully took your toy and smashed it? You could do one of two things. You could cry and feel bad and be afraid of the bully, or, you could just stand and look at the bully and smile, and know in your heart that the bully was just an ant. And your toy wasn’t so important that it was worth making you cry, because you can always get another toy, but you can’t always erase fear."
     "You mean, don’t cry when someone steals my toy, or pushes me."
     "Exactly. If you cry, then the bully wins. The bully has created fear in you. He or she has made you sad. But if you look at the bully as bully, a little ant dressed up like an elephant, then you see the bully for what he or she is--just somebody trying to scare you. Somebody trying to make you sad and afraid."
     "But, I don’t think that would be fair. Why wouldn’t I get mad at the bully?"
     "You could. But if the bully was bigger and stronger than you, he or she might hurt you. Instead of getting mad, think of about learning from the bully."
     "What would I learn from a bully?"
     "You’d learn not to be afraid. You’d learn how to face your fear. Like, if you wake up afraid at night, you can lay in bed and cry or you can do what….?"
      "Turn on the lights?"
     "That’s right. When you’re being bullied by someone, imagine you are in a dark room and afraid. Instead of crying, turn on the lights."
      "How do I do that?"
      "See the bully as an ant pretending to be an elephant."
      "Then I might laugh."
      "That’s the light of truth. A bully is someone who tries to make you cry, tries to hurt your feelings by saying bad things about you, or being mean to you or others. If you remember the bullies are just ants pretending to be elephants, it will help you not be afraid."
      "So a terrorist is an ant pretending to be an elephant?"
     "In a way. A terrorist is just a big bully— one who wants to really hurt people. And the more he hurts them, the more fear he creates. So, if we’re not afraid of bullies…"
      "Then they really can’t hurt us—not inside, right, Mommy, right Daddy?"
     "That’s right. And there’s one last thing to always remember about a bully who’s trying to scare you with threats and words."
     "What’s that?"
     "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!"
     "I heard a good one too, Mommy and Daddy. I’m rubber you’re glue, everything you say bounces off me and sticks on you…."
     "Very good. So, what’s a terrorist?"
     "An ant pretending to be an elephant!"
     "That’s it. And how do you fight a terrorist?"
     "You see the ant…not the elephant. You don’t let them make you afraid."
     "Perfect. Now, are you ready to go to bed?"
      "Not unless you leave the light on!"
      "If you can always believe ants are elephants, you’ll never be alone in the dark again."
     "Well, just for tonight, Mommy and Daddy, I want to keep the light on!"

                               Nov. 2--Ground Zero Plus 52

It had to be them.  Five thousand plus silent Voices cheering on the Yankees.   What else could it be?  Two nights in a row?  The ninth inning?  Like some fairy tale story.   Out of the ashes rose the Phoenix Bird. 
      I had fallen asleep last night.  My daughter called to tell me the game was tied.  I tried to stay awake, but since I get up at four or five each morning to work on the website, much after midnight is tough.   And, again, I had that lingering doubt, that insidious Complacency that we "just couldn't do it again."  
      Vigilance wanes around midnight for me.   I hoped they would win.  I wanted them too.  But there is that incredible logic rolling around one's head that suggests the impossible and improbable is not possible or probable.   I miss my childish visions when I did believe the "cow could jump over the moon, and the dish could run away with the spoon."  But this morning, it was made a fact to me again--The Sentinels of Vigilance work even when I sleep.   I laughed at myself.   Here I am, trying to promote Vigilance and becoming Complacent.   The Sinner trying to be a Saint.   Ah, but what was refreshing was to realize that I had no power over the Sentinels.  They had their own agenda.  They were going to prove to me and the world that Hope and Belief and Faith and Courage and Conviction and, most of all, Action works even in the 12th Inning of Life.
     Yesterday, I had pumped out nearly a hundred press releases about the website.  Uploaded files to get the site listed on hundreds of servers.  And written some well-known government officials who fight terrorism politically and militarily, with my cry to add a grass roots battle to their agendas--the Parents of Vigilance.
     I felt like the Yankees with Arizona three runs on the board in the Ninth Inning.   What I didn't remember was there were 5,000 silent souls cheering on their home team.   I didn't remember Vigilance overpowers the Complacency.
     Skeptics may chalk up this win to just "luck," or "fortune," or maybe an inexperienced pitcher for Arizona who threw the wrong pitches--all logical, sound, skeptical stuff.  
     But I'm going to stick to my Friday-morning quarterbacking.   And that is that there were 5,000 silent Sentinels of Vigilance reminding the Yankees "it ain't over 'till its over."
     Today, I awoke with the belief that one day the Parents of Vigilance will spread its wings.   Maybe I'm in just too big a hurry to win a long-fought battle.   Maybe I'm in the first inning and think it's the Ninth?  I have to take lessons from my environment.   I have to see the Yankees as my symbols of Vigilance, reminding me if I wait and work, and swing the bat, that I'll make a hit and drive the ball of Vigilance into the stands.  And, I need to take the cotton out of my ears, and listen to the Voices of Vigilance...those 5,000 souls who have risen up from the ashes of destruction as Sentinels of Vigilance to remind us all--"it ain't over 'till it's over."


                                 Nov. 1—Ground Zero Plus 51
                          Yankees win WITH  Courage, confidence & Conviction

 I felt the complacency last night about the bottom of the 8th inning.  I was about to go to bed even though we happen to have a Derek Jeter signed baseball sitting on our hutch.   It seemed to me it was over.  But I forget Joe Torres' hat says, "It ain't over 'till it's over."   I forgot about Vigilance.  I forgot the Sentinels of Vigilance were rooting for the Yankees.   Complacency in its most base form attacked me.   Just as I was about to chuck it in, my buddy Jeter took the plate.  Two strikes, two outs, no hits in the game...a big slump...I just didn't want to see the pain of my Sentinels of Vigilance not being there for me.  I felt like the kid who stopped believing in Santa Claus.   The, the pitch came. And Jeter whacked it.  And it flew, like the spirits of the all the 5,000 Plus spirits rose out of the World Trade Center and drove the wood into the ball.   Up and up and up the ball soared, and then the crowd began to cheer.  And I cheered.  And cheered.  And cheered.   Jeter hadn't forgotten the formula to fight Terrorism--Courage, Conviction and Action.  But I had.  The first step, Courage...had turned to Fear the Yankees would lose; the second step, Conviction had become Intimidation that the other team was better, stronger, more deserving, and the last and most insidious, was the Complacency that I was tired of believing in the Sentinels, that maybe it was all fantasy--that Santa didn't really exist---and I didn't take the Action...I resigned myself to go to bed and wake up to the horrible news the Yankees had lost... but then...the world changed.    The ball soared, my spirits soared...I was renewed.    Even if you're not a Yankee fan, you have to admit there was magic last night....   From the womb of the World Trade Center I could hear the birth of belief....I felt the power of the Sentinels reminding me to stay Vigilant.   Because "it ain't over 'till it's over..."

                                         Oct 31—Ground Zero Plus 50
                                 The Scariest Day Of The Year-When We Forget!
Halloween!   To some, it is the scariest day of the year.  It is the time the ghosts and goblins come out of the dark shadows, their hands in the air--loud "boos" ringing in the dank dark night.
          For me, tonight, Oct. 31, is scary because it marks Ground Zero Plus 50.   It is just fifty days and a day ago that Terrorism attacked America's security, pounded its pride into a mass of twisted rubble and thousands of innocent killed. But it seems like a century ago.
          September 11 was a day the reputation of America as a "safe and secure" nation died and the "ghosts and goblins" of Terrorism leapt out of the shadows of death's shroud to squat on America's doorstep.
          What scares me most about today is the fear, apprehension and concern I have that so many are slowly forgetting the purpose of the attack fifty days plus ago.   The Second Tuesday of September hallmarked a violation of our domestic peace, a destruction of our internal security.  It was a warning shot across our bow that we no longer enjoyed the Freedom From Fear.  It was an horrible announcement that we were now part of what the rest of the world knows as "strife and rife" in their daily lives.  As some said that day, "Welcome to the real world, America."
                                               Day Of Maturity
          September 11 besides being a day of tragedy was also a day of "maturity."  It was at 8:46 a.m. that morning when America was told to expand the muscles of its Courage, Conviction and to take Action for the future of its children.  At 8:46a.m on the Second Tuesday of September, America stood on the threshold of manhood and womanhood, looking back at its innocence as a child might who had been protected for hundreds of years by its isolation from the rest of the troubled world.  It was the day that Americans knew they could die at the hands of some foreign invader in the peace and quiet of their neighborhood.
          America stepped out of the clothes of a child that day, and into the icy blast of maturity.  A child grows up in a cocoon of security.  He or she lives in the parents' house, enjoying the protection of the "family."   Then, one day, the child leaves the "nest."   He or she ventures out on a journey of maturity, where mother and father no longer provide the shelter, security or constant vigil over them.  
         For many, leaving the security of "home"  is a scary day.  Perhaps the scariest of all days.  It is the day a child realizes he or she is "alone" and "responsible" for their own behavior.   When a child and leaves the "nest of security," the world is often cold and frightening, brusque and rough.    Often, the child gets his or her nose bloodied.  He or she makes mistakes and must huddle in the quiet of the dark to figure out the solution--unable to wrap his or her arms around mommy or daddy or have them comfort and protect them.
         September 11 was a day like that.  On that day, the terrorists smashed their planes into America's immaturity, forcing us "out of the nest of comfort and security" and thrust us into the cold reality of a brutal world that will indiscriminately kill women and children without blinking an eye.  It was the day we realized there are those filled with such hatred they would terrorize the weak and helpless from the shadows of darkness and then scuttle away in the aftermath to seek more darkness to hide within until the day or night arose where it decided to strike out again, and again.
          September 11 was a day America was supposed to grow up.
          But no one really wants to "grow up."   America, as a nation, is no different. 
          After hundreds of years of developing the richest, safest, most powerful nation in the world, who among us wants to think a third-world tyrant can make us quiver, or turn our spines into Jell-O?
          Instead, many of us chalk up the experience of September 11 as a tragic day in our history.  We begin to push aside the anthrax scares as the work of some frustrated terrorist trying to capitalize on the disaster.    We grow tired of the news telling us nothing can be done, that we are ill-prepared as a nation to fight it.   So, we turn off MSNBC and switch on the World Series.  We can hardly wait for the new television programs to launch so they will take our mind off this "Terrorism News" that has gone on now for over fifty days non-stop. 
          We ask:  "Will it ever end?  When can we get back to "normal?"
                                IT'S SCARY TO FORGET TO REMEMBER
         This "Complacency" makes Oct. 31 the scariest day of the year for me not because it is Halloween, but because it is another day when thousands of Americans are slip off the slope of Vigilance and slide into the quagmire of Complacency.
s          It is a day when thousands of people are making the decision that since we have bombed the Evil One and shown the world we can and will retaliate against terrorism, these "external actions" provide sufficient warning to future terrorists that if they try and attack America again, we will pulverize them into ashes also.
        At the same moment, the Attorney General announces the impending attack of more terrorism.  
        Whom do we believe?  Do we believe our gut feeling that we need to get on with life and put this terrorism behind us, this paranoia, this fear of fright, or, do we huddle in the caves of self-imposed fear in Two Boots, Montana where the last terrorist we saw was a bearded motorcyclist with California license plates?
                                    S0LUTION TO THE DILEMMA
         I believe the simple solution to this dilemma is to form the Parents of Vigilance.  Our nation's battle with Terrorism is not focused in the Middle East as we might want to believe, but rather in our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities.  Terrorism has two faces--the external and internal.   And it takes many forms to weaken and destroy us
         The child who is scared of people, or frightened he or she is too fat, too thin, not smart enough, not rich enough, not liked enough--suffers a Terrorism that is far deeper than the fear of anthrax or a World Trade Center repeat bombing.
         The battle with Terrorism begins within a child's sense of "security" as a person.  The Parents Of Vigilance is about preparing a child to cross the threshold of manhood or womanhood with pride and dignity, to make them ready to deal with Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in all aspects of their lives.  It's not just about preparing for anthrax or bombings from crazed enemies from afar.   The attacks on September 11 awakened us to a much more important issue--strengthening the resolve of our children to fight Terrorism within.
         If we use the tragedy wisely, we can rebuild in our youth a pride and dignity that will help reduce crime, violence in our school and stifle growing drug usage among teens.   Vigilance of a parent toward his or her children can only help sew the fabric of the family back stronger.   Such an effort is not based in Defensive Paranoia, but rather Offensive Growth.   By growing closer to the innermost fears and feelings of our children-- creating Sentinels of Vigilance that stand to protect them from the enemies of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency both "within and without"--we turn tragedy into victory;  we salute rather and bury those who died on the Second Tuesday of September.
        On this, the Fiftieth Day Plus of Ground Zero, I ask you to think about not turning away from the events of September 11 as moment in time--but rather to view them as a lesson for the future.   Let September 11 stand as your moment of awakening.  Let it be the moment you,  as a parent, commit to help your child, your grandchild, your niece, your nephew, your cousins and loved ones grow stronger, prouder, more self-sufficient human beings who can fight Terrorism in every quarter with a champion attitude, and champion result.
        Let this Halloween be your reminder the scariest day of the year is the day we "want to forget" what happened on September 11 and the reasons why it happened.  If we do forget, the victims are our children and their children children's children, and we, who forgot to remember, become the real terrorists.

Oct 30—Ground Zero Plus 49
                               The Cancerous Cell Of Terrorism’s Denial 

         I ran into my friend, Joe, the former Israeli Intelligence Officer.   I saw him at Starbucks, near Astor Place, where I do my writing and Joe reads his paper and has his coffee.   “How you doing, Joe,”   Joe never smiles, at least, not about Terrorism.   “Did you see this.  I told you.  Americans do not understand.  They are in denial.”   He stabbed his finger at the lead story on the left side of the New York Times.  It was a poll taken of Americans who doubted that there was a real “threat” of more terrorism.   “This is what they want,” Joe said.  “They know Americans don’t want to believe they are vulnerable.  It is like the turtle, pulling its head back into the shell.  I tell you, Cliff.  This bothers me.”  
         I understood what Joe was saying.  Each day I write about Terrorism, the more I realize the insidious nature of it.   I survived cancer six years ago—colon cancer—but I know it only takes one cell inside me that is laying dormant to come to life and the cancer can attack me again.   Insurance companies know it too.  They redline people like me.   If you have cancer and are “cured,” you now become a statistic, liable to get it again.
          You become vulnerable.  You might think you’re like everyone else.  You might pretend you’re cured, but then you open up the statistical tables and look at the facts.  You’re history.   Your odds drop because of the first attack.
           I likened my own experience to September 11.  America was diagnosed with Terrorism Cancer.   It attacked our security system.  It ate out the heart of our invincibility.  Now, we want to deny it.  We want to pretend it just happened, and it’s over.   We want to pull our heads into the turtle shell.
          I understand.  I don’t walk down the street wearing a Cancer Survivor pendant.   I live my life as though I never had cancer, with one exception.   I absolutely know it can attack me again.  I know there could be that one cell rolling around inside, waiting to attack again.   I know I’m not invincible.   And that makes me Vigilant.  I am a Parent of Vigilance about cancer.   I don’t deny its presence.   I don’t hide from its reality.
           Instead, I try to live each day to the fullest, knowing that it could be my last.   I don’t think this in negative terms, but in positive ones.   I want to end the day saying:  “I had a great day of life.”  And I’d love to have more than my fair share of them.  
            I do a couple of things to remind myself of my vulnerability.  When someone says, “How are you doing?”  I reply, “I’m alive.”   They usually smile or double take me.   They might think I’m just making a statement, but I’m stating a fact.   I know the difference between life and death—and it had nothing to do with surviving a war.  It had everything to do with an operation and a year of chemotherapy where I sat in a chair with a drip in my arm once a week for fifty-two weeks and contemplated life versus death.
          I could have chosen to ignore cancer.   But I haven’t.   When I reply to your question, “How are you?”  I respond with the finest statement a human being can say:  “I’m alive.”
           Terrorism is alive.  It is as alive as a single cancer cell.   And, America will have to face the facts or one day, when Terrorism attacks again, Americans who shoved their heads in the shell will not be prepared to deal with it. 
          However, if they become Parents of Vigilance today, and start working on building their fortress of Vigilance, then Terrorism may just find another host—a country more concerned with denial than acceptance.

October 29—Monday—Ground Zero Plus 48

I watched the families carrying the ashes from the World Trade Center today.  They walked slowly with the remains of their loved ones mixed with the remains of other loved ones, symbolic of how so many died for the children of this nation and the world.
          I wanted to tell them that those who died had risen above death into legend, as Sentinels of Vigilance--bold reminders that Terrorism cannot kill the spirit of Freedom, or destroy the innocence of a nation.
          I wanted their children, grandchildren, cousins, nephews, nieces, mothers and fathers, grandparents, uncles and aunts—all their loved ones—to know that the Ashes of Destruction were the soil of Reconstruction.  
           I wanted them to realize that America and the world had taken their deaths and converted them into a living memorial that would last for centuries through Semper Vigilantes.  And to tell them that the box of ashes they carried was the fertilizer of Faith and Conviction for so many children who would come to see their deaths on the Second Tuesday of September as a symbol of sacrifice rather than a horrible tragedy.
           I stood and saluted when I saw the loved ones walking by.  I saluted the Vigilance they, the survivors had shown, clinging to the belief that there must be some reason for the senseless death of so many.   I saluted the Sentinels of Vigilance because I knew they had not died in vain.  I knew their memories would live as long as Fear, Intimidation and Complacency tried to take away the security and safety of the children of any nation.

October 28—Sunday, Ground Zero Plus 47—


            My wife and I took our grandchildren to FAO Schwarz famous toy store on Sunday.   It is my favorite place to view the innocence of children.   FAO, located on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York City, is a sanctuary free of Terrorism.   I take the children there frequently because they have constructed a world where the merchandise is designed to excite the imagination of a child, and to sweep an adult back in time to those days when he or she was free from the worries of adulthood.  
           FAO had a playground inside the store, where the kids could play various games and dedicate their “playtime” to various charities.   We were handed a Pledge sheet to record the children’s play time and to allocate any dollar amount to that “playtime” as we might have pledged to pay so much a mile for a charity walk, or so much for every box of cookies sold.   The catch was the kids got to select the charity.  It was FAO’s way of teaching children to “give back” for the freedom they enjoyed to have the “right to play.”
           I thought about all the children in the world who might not have the time to “play” in such a safe and secure and beautiful environment as FAO Schwarz in New York City.   I thought about the children in Afghanistan, or in Guatemala, or in rural China, or in Bangladesh—or those children you see on late night television being proffered so that you send in some money to sponsor a child’s well being.
          I looked at my grandchildren, and the herds of other children they were interacting with, and I saw smiles and cheer and joy gushing from them.   I thought how important it was to protect them from the Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies of life.  But protecting them did not mean eliminating those Fears, Intimidations or Complacencies.   It meant teaching them how to deal with them when they attacked them.   It meant reminding them they had the choice to replace Fear with Courage, or Intimidation with Conviction, or Action with Complacency.
          Then I saw the power of Action come to life.   My five-year-old grandson and three-year-old granddaughter wanted to play with the Thomas Train display FAO Schwarz strategically leaves out so children can interact with the toys and beg their parents to get them one.   At the display table a little boy had all the cars attached to an engine and were pulling it around.   Sarah, our granddaughter, stood watching, intimidated by the larger boy who was busy pulling his long train.
           Matt, our grandson, asked the boy to share one of the trains with Sarah.  There was no response by the boy as he continued to chug-chug the train around the tracks.   Again, Matt asked him to share one with Sarah.   Still no response.
           Finally, Matt said in a stern Voice, “You share with my sister or go home.”   The boy looked up at Matt and then Sarah, then turned and walked away, leaving the trains for others to play with.
           While it might have been a minor incident, it was also a major one.   Matt had become, in that split second, a Parent of Vigilance.   He screwed up his Courage, had Conviction his sister should have the right to play with at least one of the Thomas Trains, and took the Action to tell the other boy not once, but three times to share.
            I was glad to see the “big brother” sticking up for the “little sister.”  I was glad the other boy realized that maybe he should share.  And I was glad there wasn’t any confrontation.  
            And, I wondered how many children might not have someone to stand up as a Parent of Vigilance for them?  I wondered how many children shrink back in the corners of life, fearful of standing up for themselves because they never had anyone do that for them—show them the importance of Courage, Conviction and Action.
            I was glad that my grandson knew how to employ his.   It made my day.

October 28—Sunday Night—Ground Zero Plus 47—

            I was trying to wash my mind of President Bush’s words—rid us of the Evil One—as though cutting off the head of the Snake of Terrorism would kill it.  As if there weren’t lots of other snakes out there, eager to sink their fangs into our vulnerability.  
           Baseball helps wash my mind, because I’m not a sports fan.  But ever since we moved to New York City nearly two years ago, I have grown to appreciate the New York Yankees and root for them, despite my overall complacency about being a “sports fan.”
          I seemed to see Fear and Intimidation and Complacency written all over the Yankees as they made error after error in their title bout with the Arizona Diamondbacks.   They missed balls, didn’t bat, and pitched those balls that that flew out of the park.
           I knew that feeling of fumbling, trying to do it right, everything going wrong.   I was struggling myself to get my webpage broadcast to the world.  I was fighting to get sponsors to help support me financially.  I was trying to write.  I was trying to edit everything so it was perfect.  I was trying to figure out how to use Microsoft Front Page so I could keep the website looking great.  I was trying to find a type program so I could make the logo glisten appropriate to its mission of alerting the world to Vigilance.  I was trying to lose weight as my hunger for Ben & Jerry’s was overpowering my desire to be slim and trim.  My hair was beginning to fall out, a strand at a time, revealing more and more of my scalp, reminding me I was on the back side of life’s mountain.
           Yes, I understood the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency of a World Series battle where you hear nearly sixty-thousand Voices cheering on the other team.
           And then I listened to the sports broadcasters, vilifying the Yankee third baseman for not making this play, or that play, and how if only he had, the tide might have turned.
            I began to think, “if only I had done this sooner, or that better, or this with more Vigilance, or hadn’t got Complacent the other day, or taken Action sooner…   Then, I remembered that the Sentinels of Vigilance were rooting for the Yankees.   There were an extra five-thousand fans in the stands, quiet, strong, defiant figures that no one could see, but they were there, whispering into everyone’s ears—“it’s not who wins, it’s how you play the game that counts.”
           I could see them in the stands, their eyes scanning the horizon, the outfield, the infield, protecting everyone there from the fear of Terrorism.
            I saw the American Flag being unfurled, and the honor guard, and heard the national anthem and “God Bless America” being sung.  I saw the flags in the stands being waved.   I heard the cheering of a nation eager to get back to its business of living with Courage, Conviction and Action.
           And I realized that on Wednesday the Yankees would come home, to the site where Terrorism struck a deadly blow to the belly of America’s dignity as an impregnable nation.
            I knew the Yankees would rise from the ashes of defeat.  Whether they won or not was the point.   What was important was they were champions.   And champions can never be defeated in the long run.   I thought about what the Olympiads say before they compete:  “Let me be victorious or my attempt glorious!”  
           Yes, I thought, “Let Me Be Victorious Or My Attempt Glorious!”
           Go Yankees!  Go with Courage, Conviction and take some Action with the bats!

                  Oct. 27, Saturday—Ground Zero Plus 46—

  IS CONSTITUTIONAL TERRORISM ON THE  LOOSE? Or,"G-Pa, How Come You Didn't Fight For My Rights?"

          I watched the President sign the bill that would expand law enforcement’s ability to eavesdrop on Americans.  There was a glow about the table where the other politicians huddled to get a pen from the President as a souvenir.   I felt the waves of “Internal Terrorism” ripple through me as the President said this was an act against “the Evil One,” and gave it no face or name.   I still am waiting to see the evidence justifying “war against the Evil One,” not to justify it to me, but to justify it to my grandson and granddaughter who think they are "citizens" of a country that asks its people's opinions before it acts in their name.  No one asked me.
            But what really sent shudders through me was the President’s comment that the bill would remain in force for four years, and that it was up to Congress to extend it then.    Was this the same Congress that ran and closed session while the Senate remained, fearful of an anthrax scare?   Then I threw my thoughts to my children and grandchildren, and wondered if it was right to stand by and let little pieces of freedom chip away under the smoke and rubble of an “alleged war.”  I wondered if others were concerned.
           I didn’t hear much on the streets.  I didn’t see people standing on corners arguing pro and con about the impact of another “quick” decision by Congress that affects our freedoms and rights.   I wondered if bin Laden was chuckling in some cave somewhere, happy that Terrorism was seeping into the cracks of the Constitution, weakening the People’s rights and strengthening those of Totalitarianism he had garnered under the "Sword of Truth," fighting the "Evil Ones" of the West?
                         G-Pa, How Come You Didn't Fight For My Rights?  
             I wondered how I could explain my own complacency to my grandchildren someday in the future when they asked, “But G-Pa, how come you didn’t fight for my rights back when…” I wondered what any parent might tell their children why we didn’t all shudder with the same horror when our Citizen’s Rights were attacked with the same force of three jetliners crashing into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.   I wondered if perhaps the reason we didn’t get alarmed was nobody could see the fire and smoke and crumpled bodies caught in the Constitutional Crack that might eventually collapse into rubble as more pens strike more bills and the Constitutional Terrorism insidiously increases.

Oct. 26, Friday—Ground Zero Plus 45—
                                            SUPPORT NEW YORK CITY.

          I was crunching my way through Microsoft Front Page, trying to learn all quirks and nuances of getting my webpage listed with search engines so people might read what I write daily.  My guts were twisting as I wrestled and fought with the format, convinced that as the smoke died and the rubble of the World Trade Center was carted off, the world would lose its interest in Terrorism as the worst enemy of America in its history.   I felt like a headline grabber, trying to jump on the crest of the wave before it dissipated and became again, the calm sea of life.   
           Then my wife showed me the article on how the citizens of Oklahoma City had not forgotten their Terrorism.  The article pointed out how they stood vigilant in their community so they wouldn’t forget.  Some of them even flew to New York to lend a strong shoulder to the surviving families who lost loved ones.    I wondered if American families at night, when the children said their prayers, or when the parents spent those blessed moments tucking them in, if they talked about vigilance to the child? 
            I wondered if they taught the child to pray for all those who suffer from Terrorism’s many forms?   Or, told them how Courage is forged out of waste of Fear?  Or, that Conviction struggles to life through the walls of Intimidation like a blade of grass wiggles it way up through the cracks of concrete?  Or, perhaps that Action is the child of Complacency, and how it causes some of us to get up out of our chairs and make a stand for what we think is right after getting tired of watching something wrong go unchecked for so long?  
           I wondered if when I woke up the next morning and started to worry (be afraid) no one would either a.) read the webpage, or, b.) care about what I had to say, if I would grow the Courage to keep writing and struggling with Front Page and pounding out my beliefs in spite of all the reasons to chuck it in and go about “life as normal.”  
           Then the phone rang and my granddaughter, age three, who is in the process of finalizing her toilet training, bragged to me about “going poo-poo.”   I began to laugh.   And then told her how proud I was of her, and how I had to get to work.   I wasn’t complacent any more.

Oct. 25, Thursday—Ground Zero Plus 45—

          I heard the screaming of sirens, and the wail and howl of emergency vehicles storming up the street.   I leapt up; ready to rush to where ever it was to see what ever it was first hand.  I jumped on my cell phone and found out it was nothing major, at least not from Terrorism.  I sat back down, wondering why I had this urge to be there when something happened, to witness it. 
           They say the open casket is validation to the rumors of death, and that some people will not believe another has passed unless they see them in their final resting-place.   Maybe it was the journalist in me, or the combat correspondent who loves to be in the thick of the fight so that whatever story I write is not built on hearsay, or rumor.   I had already witnessed people leaping from the World Trade Center as it burned, and been there when the buildings collapsed, and seen the bloodshed and violence and its aftermath.  Why would I want to see any more? 
             Maybe, I thought, I don’t want to forget.   I don’t want to let the memory of that day ooze from my mind, make me think Terrorism has evaporated, or the need for Vigilance has lost its appeal as the days wander by and the American flags that once draped the city of New York slowly disappear.   Then I heard on the news that the three-hundred suspects the FBI was investigating were all cleared, or let free.  And there was a sense of discouragement among our law enforcement systems that arrests would not be forthcoming as they had in Oklahoma City after that attack by one of our own.
            I hated to think how many more attacks would have to occur before Americans stood up and began to huddle as Parents of Vigilance.  I wanted them to form networks that would rival any Terrorist cell structure so that an impregnable wall of Courage, Conviction and Action stood between them and their ability to strike fear in the hearts of our children.  Maybe Complacency settles in after any disaster, just as the odds of lightening striking twice in the same place twice can’t happen, or won’t happen, or is unlikely to happen.  My instincts told me otherwise.
             I knew the Beast of Terror was lurking out there.   He was waiting for the anthrax scares to disorient us, take our attention away from what he was really up to.   Whoever was behind the anthrax was only keeping Fear and Intimidation and Complacency alive.   A letter here, a package there, delicately placed to maximize the press, to scream headlines—just a game to keep us off balance, fuel to frighten us, to drive us into the shell of fear a little deeper, to make us cower about opening a letter or shake when we found out there was enough antibiotics to cure us if we got it.  
          Then, I wondered about the children at night.  What did they think?   They might say anything, but how could they not know that fear hung in the air?   And what could I do?  One little Voice?   Then I knew what I could do.   I could keep reminding myself and others that we can’t let up on telling ourselves and our children that we don’t have to live in fear.   And that those who are trying to make us afraid are bullies.  And to ask them what they think of bullies.   And to ask them how they would handle someone who tried to bully their brother or sister, or someone they loved, or cared about, or just a stranger.  
           In such a discussion I would not tell children how to defend themselves, but instead, I would listen and learn.  I would be amazed at how they told me they would handle it, and I would know the children understood Courage and Conviction, and would hope that they would never have to take Action, but if that was necessary, I would know they had the foundation to do so.  And, if they had trouble answering me, I would lead them through the discussion, ending up in the same place, the same destination—knowing they knew about how to handle a bully.

Oct 24, Wednesday—Ground Zero Plus 44—

          I heard our allies, Great Britain, had committed four-hundred troops to help out America’s fight with Terrorism.  Wow, I thought, four-hundred troops.   And a few more in reserve.   The press made a big show of them storming onto the shore from landing craft.  Four-hundred, I thought, from a land of nearly 60 million.   Not bad.   Then, I remembered my friend Tony, originally from Israel.  He was my college roommate.   He called me after the attack and said:  “America is alone.  When the rubber hits the road, America will have no allies.”  I laughed.   We had four-hundred British allies.  What more did we need?

           I remember coming home the day President Kennedy was assassinated and he was standing in the kitchen listening to the radio.  Tears streamed down his eyes as he stood in a full salute—for how long I do not know.   I only know I was embarrassed I didn’t feel the same way—that same patriotism for the loss of an important leader and friend.   So I stood at attention with Tony and saluted also, but no tears came because I didn’t have the emotions then that Tony had. 
           When I saw the four-hundred British commandos charging ashore, and the press lauding how Great Britain was an ally with America in the fight against Terrorism, I couldn’t salute.   It seemed such a pittance.   Then I heard Tony’s words ringing in my ears right after the attack on the World Trade Center when  he called me from Canada to see if I was all right.   In the conversation he warned, “Cliff, don’t think the world will support your fight with Terrorism.   In the final analysis, America will stand alone.  No one wants to get involved.”  I thought of his statement as I watched four-hundred troops appearing by the press to be the support of a nation. 
           I wondered if America would stand alone in the final analysis.   But, I realized we never have to be alone.  We have the Sentinels of Vigilance watching.  Five-thousand souls from the attack, bonded together, whispering in our ear, “Stand Vigilant…Stand Vigilant…”   There are nearly a hundred million (100,000,000) households in America.   Each has the potential to become a Parent of Vigilance.  There are nearly three people per household. 
            Since Terrorism is an assault on the security of a community, a neighborhood, a home, a family, the children—I felt good knowing the British didn’t need to be our ally in the fight against Terrorism.   If only ten-percent of America’s households became a Parent of Vigilance, we would enjoy ten million combat-ready troops.   Terrorism would not have a chance if and when that happens.

                                            Semper Vigilantes

Go To: "The Scariest Place On Earth"

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