Article Overview:   Two fathers are fighting in Iraq.  One is an Iraqi guerrilla with five children, the other an American soldier with two children.    One is fighting for his country first, and the other for the safety and security of all children.    Which one is the true Sentinel of Vigilance?   Find out when you read this article.


Monday--November 17, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 796
Two Faces Of Vigilance--Is One More Terroristic Than The Other?
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Nov. 17, 2003-- "Ahmed" is an Iraqi guerrilla sworn to kill Americans who are occupying his country.   Richard Bear is an American, sworn to kill Iraqi Terrorists who threaten the security and safety of a nation struggling to sink its roots in the rocky soil of freedom and democracy.
      Both are fathers.   Both believe they are Fathers of Vigilance, fighting for what is right.
      If they met on the battlefield, they would both try to kill one another.
      In the November 17, 2003 Time Magazine, reporter Simon Robinson interviewed both the Iraqi Terrorist and the American soldier to illustrate the differences/similarities that bridge and separate them.

Editor, Cliff McKenzie, as a Warrior of Vigilance in Vietnam

        As a Warrior of Vigilance who fought a defeating guerrilla war in Vietnam, I am well-schooled on what drives "guerrillas" to fight and die for their cause.    I was an "invader" to the Vietnamese, a foreigner on their soil whom they sought to eject at any price.    I understand the guerrilla mentality, the belief that anyone from the "outside" cannot possibly understand or comprehend the "rights" or the "destiny" of the citizens of the country.

"Ahmed," father of five in Iraq, seeks to kill Americans as part of the guerrilla forces seeking to drive out the USA.

        At first glance, it appears as though the balance might tip toward the guerrilla Terrorist.  It might seem his or her right to eject the "foreigner" is just, for what does a "foreigner" know that a citizen of a country doesn't?   And, what right does an outside force have to dictate the future of a nation?
       I struggled with this dilemma as I read the Robinson article, spelling out the backgrounds of the two warriors.    "Ahmed," not the Terrorist's real name, told the Time reporter of his team's attacks on Americans.    On the other side of the coin, Sgt. Bear, stationed in Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, is constantly on patrol to capture or kill Ahmed and his fellow guerrillas.
      Both pray before battle.   Both believe they are doing the "right thing," fighting for freedom--one from the oppression of foreign invaders, the other to preserve and protect freedom for foreigners.
      Each of the warriors have children, but herein lies the rub, at least, from my viewpoint.
      In the Time article, both men are asked why they fight and risk their lives.
      Sgt. Bear is quoted as saying:   "I don't believe that we're part of any rogue U.S. government plan to take all the oil.  We don't want to turn this into a little America.  We just want to help people."   Then his quote goes on to express a broader vision:  He is quoted as saying he want to "make sure Iraqi kids have some of the opportunities my kids have."

Staff Sergeant Richard Bear patrols Iraq for Terrorists with the 101st Airborne.  His mission: to  provide freedom for the nation's children.   He has two of his own at home in Ft. Bragg.

       He has two of them back at Ft. Bragg.
       The 40-year-old Iraqi guerrilla sees the role of Sgt. Bear and the tens of thousands of Americans in Iraq as an attempt to subjugate Iraq.   He is a father of five and says he fights for his country first and his children second.  "If I haven't a country, how can I have children?" he asks.   The Time reporter says Ahmed remains loyal to Saddam Hussein, who he believes will one day lead Iraq again.   "so we ask," he says, "why send your sons to us so that we can kill them?"
        That's the $87 billion question.
        Why would Sgt. Bear risk his life in the 101st Airborne for the freedom of Iraqi children?   Why would Sgt. Bear go up against the father of five, an Iraqi Terrorist/guerrilla bent on killing him and all other Americans whose presence in Iraq threatens the sovereignty of the nation ala Saddam Hussein?
         It would be easy to sweep over the question and side with Ahmed.    But, if one blinks carefully and studies the difference between the two quotes of the two warriors, the difference is huge.
         Ahmed says he puts country before his children.   According to the Time reporter, Ahmed believes his children are attached to his country. "If I haven't a country, how can I have children?"
          Sgt. Bear sees the future of the children separate from the "country."  His vision does not attach the children's future to the real estate.   "(I) want to make sure Iraqi kids have some of the opportunities my kids have."
          Ahmed is fighting for his country; Sgt. Bear, for the children of Iraq.

We can become blind to the future of the children

          To qualify for a position as a Parent of Vigilance, one must commit one's actions and deeds to the benefit of the Children's Children's Children.    Without the ability to see past colors, religions, ethnicities, national borders, politics and prejudices, we become blind to the future of the children.  We act out of selfish rather than selfless motives, and find ourselves battling in a quagmire between our own personal desires and beliefs and the future of the children's rights to evolve without restraint.
         Ahmed's position is that his children have no future without a country.    Were that true, all the people who left their countries to come to America and enjoy the fruits of freedom would be orphans.   But, one has only to scan the vast diversity of America's heartlands to see all types, shapes and sizes of cultures suckling the teats of freedom and democracy.           

Mother Liberty is a far more safe and secure world for the child's rights than Father Oppression

         Mother Liberty is a far more safe and secure world for the child's rights than Father Oppression and Tyranny.
         And that is the Great Gap that forms a bottomless chasm between Ahmed and Sgt. Bear.    One father is fighting for another father's children's rights while the other father is fighting for his state's rights on the assumption that his five children have no rights without a country.
         Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, published in 1791-1792, fifteen years following the American Revolution, makes it clear that an individual is not a subject of any country or government, but receives his or her citizenship directly from above, from God, or a Higher Power.
         The "rights" of a person are not, he claims, dictated by government.  They are born with the child, divine in nature.   In a sense, Paine's point is that of an anarchist.  He refutes the right of any government to spell out the destiny of any individual, or to limit a person's potential.
         In the same light, Sgt. Bear doesn't see the battle in Iraq as one limited by national borders.   He sees the "Rights of the Children" dominating the "Rights of the State."
         Ahmed, however, shakes his fist at this blindness.  He sees his children shackled to the "state," to its rules and guidelines.
         What is more interesting from Sgt. Bear's comment isn't his pollyannaish view of what the children of Iraq can expect in the near future.    "(I) want to make sure Iraqi kids have some of the opportunities my kids have."
          This statement by Bear makes it clear he is seeing the future in realistic terms.  "some of the opportunities" are a lot more than "none of the opportunities."   It will take time for Iraq to evolve into a modern state where a child can enjoy the same freedoms and liberties, and with them, equal opportunities, to those American children enjoy.
         After all, it has taken more than two centuries for American liberty to evolve to the state it is currently at, and, there have been countless battles within the framework of "freedom" and "liberty" to release the children's freedom.

Today, children's rights are soaring in America

        Today, children's rights are soaring as never before in America.    And with those freedoms goes a duty to protect them both within this country and abroad.
         Americans who willingly give their lives in strange lands have more than just a vision of victory over their enemy driving them through the dust and dirt of battle.    They, like Sgt. Bear, are fighting for a belief in the future of the children of those lands.
         I remember a young Vietnamese named Pierre who worked in a company I was consulting with approaching me one day after he learned I was a U.S. Marine in Vietnam.   He came up to me in the copy room and asked if he could speak to me personally.  I smiled and said "sure."
        He was nineteen, a bubbling young man in his first year of college at the University of California's Irvine campus.   First, he bowed then he saluted me and began a short but powerful thank you for what I had done to fight for his freedom in Vietnam.
       "My family and I would not be here without your efforts, and those of your friends," he said.  "I want to thank you for my freedom."
       He saluted me again, then stuck out his hand.  I shook it earnestly.

A tear  dropped slowly down my cheek

       When he left, I felt a tear forming in my right eye.  It dropped slowly down my cheek.  No one had ever thanked me for what I had done in Vietnam, not the way Pierre did.   It was more than two decades after I returned to angry protestors and those who spat upon me and called me a "Terrorist" and a "baby killer."
       Pierre washed away all the invectives, all the ugliness that mudslingers hurled at us returning vets, accusing us of being tyrants, oppressors, imperialists and murderers.
       I have never forgotten Pierre's comment to me, or the healing reminder that a young man knew the benefits of freedom and the price paid by others to secure it.
       I know that Ahmed has his fans here in America who side with the belief that America should "keep its nose out of other people's business."   I see them on television, hurling their diatribes against the Administration and threatening political disaster if we continue to remain in Iraq.   Four-hundred Americans have died so far in Iraq.  That's less than 13 percent of the people killed in the World Trade Center on Nine Eleven.   The British have lost 52 of their warriors, Italy's death number 17 and Denmark, Spain, the Ukraine and Poland, one each.  Since May 1, following President Bush's announcement of the end of major combat, 261 Americans have died defending a nation whose population exceeds 23 million.

We are driven to re-read Thomas Paine's message

              It is easy to cringe in the shadow of the Beast of Terror when our nation's blood begins to flow and our national politicians cast stones at our intentions and leadership.   It drives one to re-read Thomas Paine.  Paine's message is a reminder that our mission is that of Parents of Vigilance, Citizens of Vigilance, Sentinels of Vigilance.  It reminds us we should all be committed, as Sgt. Bear, to the rights of the Children's Children's Children, and not to protecting the state.   The "state" is a servant to the future of the children, a shell, like that of the turtle, providing protection for the journey through life.   When the shell becomes the body, when one has no choice but carry the shell around despite its tyranny or oppression, then the shell is not a protective device, but a manacle, leg irons that hobble and fetter the opportunity of the children to grow and prosper.

Do Ahmed's children want to live in the shadow of the Beast or in the Sunlight of Vigilance?

            It would be interesting to ask Ahmed's five children to honestly respond to the question of what they want for their children.   Do they want to live in the shadow of the Beast of Tyranny and Oppression, or, in the Sunlight of Vigilance's Freedom and Opportunity?
        Sgt. Bear has made his decision.  He's willing to die for the rights of Iraqi children!  Even at the expense of his own.   For that reason, he is, without question, a Sentinel of Children's Vigilance.



Nov. 16--Conversation With God On Iraq, Tootsie Rolls & The Vision of Vigilance

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