January 28, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 139
Grandfather of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New
York City--There is something beautiful about a Monday.
It is the beginning of a new week; it is the birth of another era.
It is time carved in sets of 52--measured with by Alpha and Omega
nature--containing a beginning and end. One week is a track
upon which I can run my Vigilance engines at full steam run until
Sunday, when I seem to relax, and renew myself for another set of
52's, for another struggle with keeping my head above water in my
pursuits to keep September 11th a vital message that we should never
forget to remember..
Time being compressed into sets of weeks, 52 at a time, smacked
me in the face the other day when my older daughter reminded me
she was half-way through her pregnancy with her third child.
I stopped in my tracks as she casually mentioned it. It seemed
only yesterday she told us she was pregnant with a September 11th
baby, a child conceived in the aftermath of the horror of Nine Eleven.
I looked up the births in America--14.2
per 1,000 population. I averaged the numbers.
There were nearly 10,000 babies conceived on Sept. 11, some 70,000
for the week. I thought about the legacy those children would
carry with them throughout their lives. They were created
in the vacuum of destruction.
Pregnancy, the ultimate glorification
of life, is measured by weeks, not days. I had forgotten that
life is gauged in days and weeks. Abortionists are all
too familiar with days and weeks. They reserve the right to
"kill" the fetus before a certain time, measured by weeks.
At some magical time, the law grants life to a child, and non-life
before that. I hoped all the babies conceived
on the day and week of the Terrorist attack would survive the law;
that their parents would recognize the great gift of life, and surmount
any selfish reasons for not bringing the Legacy of September 11th
into this world, perhaps to make it better than before, perhaps
to fortress the world with reasons why violence and the "right
to take life" should never override its value.
The use of weeks to monitor
a pregnancy, or the "right to life," reminds us, I believe,
that life is precious. Weeks whispers to us that the heartbeats
of all humanity are fragile, that the sixteen breaths we take each
minute are gifts. We must struggle to remember what a commodity
life is and not take it for granted as I often do when I wake up
grumbling about getting old, or not having achieved this or that,
or worrying about the future or regretting the past. The sixteen
breaths an average adult takes per minute, give or take a few, is
but a finite reminder to not become complacent about life
itself, to not start expecting life to "give me" things
or that life "owes me." I must struggle to reverse that
thinking and remember I owe life the thanks for still being alive.
September 11th was a
crushing reminder of the fragility of life for me, and many others.
It rang the bells of mortality for thousands as cancer had when
I was diagnosed with it in 1996, or, when bullets cracked past my
ears in Vietnam in 1965 and struck the Marine next to me, killing
September 11 shocked
countless others into the reality that their precious lives were
just as subject to the reversal of death as those who unexpectedly
died in the Terrorist attacks. Eight-forty-eight in
the morning of September 11 shouted to them they could be walking
to work or drinking a cup of coffee and chatting with our co-workers
or friends, complaining about "another week"--and suddenly,
out of the blue--comes some act of Terrorism, some life-threatening
disaster which fractured their sense of invincibility and
ripped the roots of life's drudgery from under their feet.
an awakening for the Complacent, the Bored, the Restless.
Dwelling on death and
our vulnerability is not healthy. But accepting life as a
gift for today is. This weekend, my daughter's comment:
"Gee, I can't believe I'm halfway there," reminded of
the principle of loving life for life's sake--with no conditions,
no expectations, no regrets, no self-loathing, no animosity that
I've been "gypped or robbed" of my "right to life.".
It is easy to forget
life is about NOW rather than THEN or WHEN. I often get caught
up in the "I should'ves or could'ves." We all slip
into moments where we wish we either could do things we haven't
done, or lived our lives differently. It is easy to forget
TODAY is the start of a new life--it is a new gift--and to wallow
in the past or hedge on the future.
A few months
ago the sirens from the World Trade Center reminded me daily of
my mortality. Now, they have gone to sleep. Crowds don't
line the West Side Highway cheering ambulances passing by.
Fire Trucks pass normally, without cheers. The devastating
hole in the World Trade Center where twisted metal and crushed buildings
once froze the past for all to remember, has been surgically removed
by construction equipment to reflect the foundation for new growth.
after September 11th, I remembered the smell of burning bodies and
smoldering debris. It was so strong it gagged you, forcing
you to close your windows and buy an air purifier. In
those days life was precious for death hung thick in the air, jabbing
all it was lurking nearby, waiting.
But as time has passed,
one hundred and forty days after the events of September 11, twenty
weeks later, I realize I must not forget the passion of the message
I was delivered on the Second Tuesday of September, 2001--Semper
On that day I made a
vow to myself to fight for the daily birth of that world in the
consciousness of America's 100 million households. I dedicated
myself to writing about the need for 1440 minutes a day of Vigilance,
promoting it so that people all over America and the world, people
would have one more tool to fight Terrorism, especially the kind
that grows unnoticed in the hearts of children.
I didn't want to forget
my vow. I didn't want time to snuff out my mission, however
hopeless a hill it was I was trying to climb. That's
why my daughter's comment about being twenty-weeks pregnant startled
me back to the moment of horror when the buildings were aflame and
collapsed, and I was sure I was dead, or soon going to be.
I needed to be reminded
to never forget the message of Semper Vigilantes--Always Vigilant.
I thought about suggesting
to my daughter and her husband they name their child of September
11--"Vigilance". Their child was a gift of
life in the midst of death of destruction, conceived in the pall
of Terrorism's clutches. As all children born in the aftermath,
it would be a symbolic renewal of life rising from the rubble of
destruction. The name, Vigilance, I argued to myself,
would be appropriate. It would be a powerful reminder of a
time when the world was driven to its knees in sorrow and pain--a
time when human differences were put aside for human oneness.
Perhaps, I thought, I would
suggest Vigilance as a middle name. It could apply to either
a boy or girl. But I chose not to mention my thoughts.
Imposing my desires on my children was not appropriate, and rather
selfish. Naming a child is a privilege of the parents,
who, as individuals, enjoy the right of not being encumbered by
relatives' opinions. I bit my tongue--hard. "Vigilance,"
Twenty weeks was a hallmark
for all the Children Of Vigilance. I wondered about the other
mothers and fathers of September 11th who were also bearing life
to replace death What would they name their children? Would
the child know the importance of his or her birth? All
the children conceived in the aftermath, I believe, are symbols
of love in the face of hate, peace in the wake of war, vigilance
in the shadow of complacency.
In my case, I finally decided, I
would have a grandchild who would remind me to live life by the
day, the week, by the breath, by the heartbeat. She
or he would become my "Grandchild of Vigilance," brought
to life in the epicenter of the holocaust, a symbol of my need to
take the Pledge of Vigilance daily--a living reminder to replace
fear with courage, intimidation with conviction, and complacency
I thought about how Life's precious
rose blossoms no matter how the Osama bin Ladens of the world attempt
to destroy its petals.
Life's purpose of bringing peace
and joy and happiness rather than war and fear and ugliness to the
world would beat in the chests of all the children created in the
smoke of Terrorism's assault. I felt good thinking that thought.
Perhaps, I pondered, their births
would defeat the Terrorists in the long run where bombs and bullets
could not. Their births would recognize that good survives
far more tenaciously than evil.
Vigilance, I thought. Little,
Yes, I would secretly name my new
grandson or granddaughter "Vigilance" so that I might
never forget the gift of life he or she represented to all the world.
Vigilance would remind me abut the need to never forget to live
life as a precious moment in the NOW and to be Always Vigilant.
I was excited.
I was going to be the "Grandfather Of Vigilance."
I liked the sound of
To Daily Diary, Jan. 27-- TEARS OF INNOCENCE