The VigilanceVoice    

Monday... January 28, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 139
Grandfather of Vigilance

Cliff McKenzie
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 him.
        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.
        Eight-forty-eight was 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.
          Immediately 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 Vigilantes!
        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," yes!  "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 with action.
      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, beautiful "Vigilance."
      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 it.  

Go To Daily Diary, Jan. 27-- TEARS OF INNOCENCE

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