THE VigilanceVoice

Dec. 14, Friday--Ground Zero Plus 94
Why Terrorism Will Never Surrender
Cliff McKenzie
 Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent Team

      Terrorism will never surrender.  It can’t.   It only knows how to die for its cause.   Dying is its greatest honor.  Living is its penalty.

      I know a little about that.

      Thirty-five years ago the enemy had our company surrounded.   We were taking fire virtually from all sides.  We walked into a trap.
      I remember the bullets cracking past my ear, snapping like thunder, feeling their heat and deadly mission as I was pinned down, unable to lift my head for fear the wall of lead would crush through my helmet, rip holes in my body.

      The Viet Cong had waited until the last moment and then opened up with a fury that drove us all down to the earth.   Marines screamed as bullets tore into their flesh.
      For a few deadly moments there was nothing but fear of dying raging through my mind as I lay face down, enemy bullets chewing the earth around me, inching toward me as the enemy’s aim grew better.   I knew I must move or die—but to move meant death.  I would be more exposed than I was.
     Suddenly, the fear washed itself away.
     I remember the calmness as it oozed into of my pores, and my muscles tensed.   I had been trained to die.   I had been grilled and disciplined to charge and scream like a banshee, to become invincible to death.
     The Marine Corps teaches its warriors The Way.   They don’t call it that, but it is the same as the ninjas are taught.   That is—if you are already dead, you cannot fear death.   To believe you are dead, makes you invincible to the fear of it.

     That feeling that day enveloped me.   I was already dead.  Dying was not a penalty.  Living in fear was.                  

     So I rose up.  I grabbed my rifle and pistol and began firing wildly at the enemy flashpoints.   I screamed wildly, a primal roar Marines are trained to emote in boot camp—a legacy they earned from many enemies who tagged them “Devil Dogs” because they charged the enemy screaming and ranting and firing, fearlessly, caring little about whether they died—more concerned with killing the enemy than fearful of being killed.
     That legacy saved my life that day.   As I scrambled to my feet and began squeezing rounds and yelling at the top of my lungs, around me other Marines who had been driven to the earth by the ambush rose too.    We charged forward, guns blazing, a pack of vicious animals willing to die courageously  rather than cower in the face of death.
     Miraculously, we broke through the enemy fire, crawled up a hill, and most of us escaped the walls of fire trying to wipe us from existence.   We carried our wounded and dead with us, bullets smashing between our legs, near our heads and shoulders—our rifles and pistols blazing at the Viet Cong as though we were the aggressors, not the defenders.
     I remember that day  the most of all the battles I fought.  We escaped the jaws of death by opening our jaws wider.   There was no earthly reason for us to have survived but for the sheer will and “guts and glory” of our training.

        When the Taliban did not surrender on the day they were supposed to, I thought back to that primal skirmish I was in over three decades ago.   Like the Taliban, we were outnumbered and  out-gunned.   The fierce determination of our training and our beliefs saved us.
     Terrorism, I believe, operates with the same kind of eternal passion I felt that day over thirty years ago   By the nature of its existence, it cannot die.   It fears nothing—not even death.
     Americans who wonder why the Taliban fight on in the face of certain death might never understand the equation.   I think I do.   As a warrior trained to die, I understand their last gasping breath of defiance.   Not that I respect what they stand for—I do not—but I understand their “will to die” for what they believe.
     They believe, as I did, that death is honor.  The difference between American Marines and the Taliban, however, is that Marines often wear a tattoo that says, “I’ll see you again in Hell!”   The Taliban, unfortunately, think they will go to Heaven.   Therein, lies the rub.
      Terrorism is a beast.
      We can bomb it, blast it, rip it with bullets, cut off its leaders heads, torture its prisoners, but, in the final analysis, it will regenerate.   It will return in different forms, but with the same intent—to drive the wedge of fear and intimidation into the hearts of those it attacks.
      That’s why fighting complacency must be America’s number one priority once the evidence of bin Laden’s death, or the seeming surrender of the Taliban, is complete.   Complacency is the false assumption Terrorism will bow down and offer its hate, its envy, its resentment and its anger over to the “infidels.”  
      It will never do that.
      But, Americans, who historically love to shove the past in a grave and bury it so they can get on with the “normal way of life, will be rudely awakened by its outbreak in the future.        

          If we learned one lesson from the September 11th Terrorist attacks, it must be about the “vulnerability” of America.    To counter potential complacency, we must be Semper Vigilantes, Always Vigilant.
      Now that the crack in the dam is obvious, we must prepare ourselves and our children to stand up to the future, using our experience and knowledge of the past.
      There can be no victory over physical Terrorism.  But there can be over its emotional impact.   There can be an ongoing vigilance we, as a society, bring to our children.  We can teach them "The Way Of Vigilance."  That is, to learn to manage their fear, intimidation and complacency.   
      We can prioritize to our children the power of replacing fear with courage, intimidation with conviction and complacency with action.    Since Terrorism feeds primarily on fear, intimidation and complacency, our best defense against these beasts is to recognize they will not give up—they will not surrender.   To admit otherwise, is to start the engines of complacency.    

A Reminder To Never Forget Vietnam 
Now, How Will We Never Forget September 11?

          As a society, we are quick to teach our children not to talk to “strangers,” or expose themselves to vulnerability of the physical self.   Accordingly, we can also teach them to be vigilant about fear, intimidation and complacency.
       If we believe Terrorism, like evil, cannot be killed or eliminated from our lives, then we become true Sentinels of Vigilance.  We do not allow the door to complacency to open.   We keep one eye open all the time.
         We become the Warriors of Peace.   Then nothing, not even Terrorists, can frighten us, or, our children ever again.

Go To December 13: "Is John Walker Really Jane Fonda In Drag?"

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