Article Overview:   It's the 777th day from Ground Zero, September 11, 2001.   It's a lucky day.  It's a day of Vigilance.  It's a day to remind ourselves of our duty to fight the Beast of Terror.   See if it's your lucky day.


Wednesday--October 29, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 777
Day 777 From Ground Zero--Terrorism's Unlucky Day
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Oct. 29, 2003-- Terrorism faces an unlucky day today.  
       It is the 777th day from Ground Zero a lucky day for Vigilance, an unlucky one for Terrorism.

It is the 777th day from Ground Zero

      If Terrorism were a fat, greedy, money-grubbing slot machine, it would be gutted today.   Its entrails would spill out into the hot sun for the vultures to feast upon.   The birds would sing.   Flower buds would burst into splashing pallets of rainbow beauty.
      Mothers would release their worried clutch upon their children.
      Fathers would relax their tense grip on the hilt of the Swords of Vigilance.
      777!   It would be a day of rejoicing--if Terrorism were the gaming table, and we all were the players.
      Luck, unfortunately, has little to do with battling Terrorism.
      Vigilance does.

Even when flowers bloom, we can't give the Beast of Terror the edge

           Even when the birds sing and the sun shines and the flowers burst into magical sheets of color, we can't let up our grip on our children, or give the Beast of Terror that slight, deadly edge by letting our fingers go slack on the hilt of the Sword of Vigilance.
            Nine Eleven reminds us that out of any clear blue beautiful sky can rain the storms of Terror.  
             Seven hundred and seventy seven days ago from Ground Zero--I count Ground Zero as the "Zero Day" and do not include it in the day those of you measuring the days from September 11, 2001 may think I am off a day; I start at 0 +1 + 2 +3; I have "frozen" Ground Zero for historic purposes--includes 67 million heartbeats.  These 67 million heartbeats mark the time since the Terrorist attack that shifted America's attitude away from daily serenity toward the goal of daily security.  The beats drum out the need for Vigilance.

We tend to forget we live within heartbeats

       We tend to forget we live within heartbeats.
       Victims of crimes and tragic incidents don't.
       Individuals and families who suffer crisis in their lives resulting from the unexpected know time from a different perspective than those of us who have not faced heart-stopping events.
       I remember the day I was diagnosed with colon cancer as clearly and as frighteningly as I remember watching the shiny belly of the first Terrorist plane scream overhead, en route to smash into the Twin Towers and launch the Age of Vigilance.
      Many of us have dates, measured down to the millisecond, etched into our minds and embossed upon our souls as reminders of our "loss of innocence."  On those days, or upon those instances, something was ripped from us.  Part of our being was shattered.   Our souls were cracked.   The sun stopped shining.   Dark, ominous clouds descended.
      We heard the roar of the Beast of Terror.

We heard the roar of The Beast of Terror

     Its fetid breath washed upon us, gagging us as the suffocating odor of dung heap might we had been buried within.
      Not too long ago here in New York City a car careened off the street near Macy's department store and smashed into a clog of people standing on the corner, killing and maiming a dozen people.   The mothers and fathers of the children who were crushed that day have not forgotten that date.
       They no longer allow any of their loved ones to stand near corners.  Some avoid walking on crowded streets altogether.
        My wife and I watch the television series "Missing," where the FBI hunts down people who have disappeared.   Most of the endings are sad.   The victims are usually dead, killed by their abductors.
        Parents and loved ones of such victims do not forget those radical moments of universal tragedy.   They don't shake off fate's deadly hand and go on as they had before.    They clutch their Swords of Vigilance.   They hoist their Shields of Vigilance.   They become Sentinels of Vigilance by force of circumstance, not volition.

Watching people intentionally die carved a hole in my soul

        When I witnessed the leaping bodies of people falling hundreds of feet to their death at the World Trade Center 777 days ago, something ripped a hole in my soul.    Watching people intentionally die rather than being burned to death carves a niche in one's soul--it scars your vision of life's beauty for you witness death's ugliness, its insanity, its careless disregard for its victims or its witnesses.
         In Vietnam I witnessed many such deaths.  I saw the old and young, the children and mothers, the grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins lying in twisted masses--both the living and dead pleading and wailing for the destruction to stop, for "peace" to replaced by "war," for "Vigilance" to overpower "Terrorism."
         While I have no specific date in my mental calculator for those events, I do have an era blocked out.   All warriors who witness and participate in the death of others can never scrape the blood of the innocent from the windows of their minds.   It creates a fog through which all life is seen forever in shades of despair and often horrible acceptance that life and death are nothing more than the tides, coming and going, taking and giving, with little regard to one another.
         It's hard for me to cry over the loss of human life.   I've seen far more than my fair share of it, and, what I have seen has been ugly, twisted, wasted life-loss.   It's the robbing of the innocent that has soured the wine of life for me.   It is the perennial knowledge that at any moment a bolt of lightening can spear down and strike the most worthy, the most innocent of us all without a blink, a nod that makes me clutch my Sword of Vigilance and keep my Shield of Vigilance held high against the seemingly peaceful sky.
        Terror, I know, can rain down on us individually or collectively at the whim of the universe.

I elect to push away Terrorism's attempts to choke the sunlight of life

        Today, however, I elect to shove away the gloom and doom of Terrorism's attempt to choke the sunlight of life.   Today is 777 days from Ground Zero.  Here in New York City it is a rainy, overcast day.   It is a day of "gloom" for those who cower in the shadow of the Beast of Terror.
        But, if one is a gambler, and, ultimately we all are because we are betting that we will be exempt from life's tragedies, today is a "jackpot day."
        Slot machines pay off the big money when you hit 7-7-7!   Throughout history, "seven" is the lucky number, and three of them, WOW!
        To me, I look upon the 777th Day From Ground Zero as an opportunity to shift my thinking.
        I know there are only two kinds of thoughts--The Vigilant Thought on one end of the spectrum, and the Terror Thought on the other end.

Many thoughts exist between the poles of Vigilant  and Terror Thoughts

       Many thoughts exist between these poles of greater or lesser degree.   But, they all end up at one or the other end of the pole--either one believes that the world is out to get them or the world a place where we can make our bed--soft or hard--and lie in it.
         If I dwell on the Shadow of the Beast ruling my life, I become paranoid.  I may not leave my apartment.   I may build a bomb shelter and live with the roots and rocks, hiding from the sunlight, the rain, the changing seasons.
         But, if I live with the Sentinels of Vigilance I know I must rise up out of the quagmire of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency and walk with dignity down the road of life.  I must inhale the perfume of Vigilance--its Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that benefit the Children's Children's Children, for if I refuse to accept my role as a Parent of Vigilance, a Grandparent of Vigilance, a Citizen of Vigilance, all the wisdoms I have learned in life will be flushed down the toilet.   I will feed the Beast the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency he eagerly absorbs to keep his strength by robbing me of my hope, belief and commitment to the future.
         The average person who has not faced a first-hand tragedy in his or her life may not understand what I'm talking about.    Unfortunately, tragedy changes a person's outlook.   It creates a mortality to life, a reminder of how precarious and fragile life is.

We know those we love can be taken by the snap of a finger

       Tragedies allow us to take stock of our lives--to measure our actions today to see if they are the most valuable, the most beneficial they can be because we--those of us who have faced the mortality of life--know that the heartbeat within us and those we love can be taken by the snap of a finger.
         If we are Vigilant, we do our best to protect the lives of the innocent.
         If we are subjects of the Beast of Terror, we selfishly retreat within ourselves, pull our shells around us, and hide from the "outside world" in hopes it will march past us.
        For me, it comes down to a simple question:  "What am I doing today to protect the Children's Children's Children from the Beast of Terror?"
        I elect to be a Soldier of Vigilance.
        I try my best to enlist as many others in this Vigilance Corps.
        My concern today is to teach my grandchildren how to handle Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   To do that, I have to be aware that Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for the benefit of future generations are the keys to countering the Beast's Shadow.
        To live in the sunshine of a 777 Day, I need to believe that Vigilance is a worthy goal.  I need to believe that any action I take to protect others is far better than no action.
        And, most importantly, I need to remember that my purpose is not to serve as the sole protector of anyone, but to teach others how to protect themselves against the Beast of Terror's claws.
        Fear, Intimidation and Complacency come from within a person.   The best I can do as a Sentinel of Vigilance is to warn the innocent of the Beast's presence, and to arm them with tools of self-defense.  And, to go one step farther--to remind them that they have duty as a citizen of the world to pass on the Sword and Shield of Vigilance to another.
       Only when we all are unified in a common belief that Terrorism can be defeated by Vigilance will the Beast starve.   Only when we lay siege to his farming of the crops of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency will the castle walls of Courage, Conviction and Right Actions thwart his attempts to crush them.
        It is the 777th Day of Vigilance, not of Terror.   

The Beast of Terror is on the Most Wanted List and we can fight him

        I look around the world and hear the word "Terrorism" spoken on countless thousands of lips....    I know that the Beast of Terror is on the Most Wanted List.   Seven-hundred and seventy-six days ago (September 10, 2001) the Beast of Terror seemed invisible.  
       No more.
       He is exposed.
      Now, that he is in the open, we can fight him.
      And that is the lucky part of today.   Today, we need to celebrate not our victory over, but our recognition of, the Beast of Terror.    The more we acknowledge his part in our life, the freer we can be to live life without being hobbled to his Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
      If you're feeling lucky today, take the Pledge of Vigilance.
      You won't regret it, neither will your Children's Children's Children.

Oct. 28--Lady Liberty's Terrorism Battles

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