THE VigilanceVoicev

Dec. 25-Tuesday--Ground Zero Plus 105 Days

A story about a special present all can enjoy.

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News



          Under every Christmas Tree, in every household, tucked in a quiet corner, rests a special Holiday package that can change the lives of all who wonder what they can do to fight Terrorism and protect themselves from its horror, its insidiousness.
            It is simply wrapped in plain paper 
            It doesn't stand out as other Holiday packages.  It doesn't glitter or gleam or sparkle.
            It is a quiet, unassuming package that can be easily overlooked; gone unnoticed in the madding Holiday fervor where spirits become intoxicated by shiny, gaily wrapped gifts begging for attention. 
           This package is patient.  It has been resting in the same spot for many months; in some cases, many years.  Its wrapping is dusty, tattered due to much neglect, much oversight.   It assumes no sparkling presence.  It seeks no notice, for it is what it is, without attempting to be more.  It doesn’t scream:  “Open Me!”   It has been waiting to be opened so long, people who pass it by don’t see it any more.  They have allowed it to become part of the wall or the floor, ignoring or blind to its individuality, its privacy, its singleness of purpose and the power and magnificence of what it contains.
           Today, however, after all the other presents are opened on Christmas Morning, 2001, the package seeks to be recognized.  It vibrates. It throbs.
           It seems alive. It can no longer wait to be noticed, to be opened.
           It bounces and rattles and thunders from within so that no one can ignore its presence..   Families all over America gather around it, curiously discovering that which has been there all year, every year, for as long as they can remember now that they recognize its existence.   A feeling sweeps among those gathered in a circle staring at the package--it like that which magnetically draws the salmon to its original spawning grounds, driving it to swim across oceans, into the mouth of river, and battle its way up streams, over falls and the hungry mouths of grizzlies fattening themselves up for winter, to seek its treasured birthplace where it will spawn future generations and preserve the balance of life over death.
           This primal, yet spiritual communion with the package passes from the children, to the parents and on to the grandparents who, as a collective union of humanity, represent over two-hundred years of life lived and yet to live.  This unified body forms a ring around the package.  Some kneeling or stand, others sit and wait for the package to stop its motion.  Slowly, as it settles, from inside comes  Voices calling to the children, the mothers, the fathers, the grandparents, the cousins, the nephews, nieces, uncles and aunts and loved ones who knot themselves around the unassuming gift.
           At first the sounds are muffled.   People cock their heads, straining to comprehend the strange cacophony humming from its hidden contents.   Gradually, the Voices rise and become intelligible.    It is a choir; a mixture of men and women, young and old, from all different lands, languages, backgrounds.  They are singing.
           A child who is observing the package and not afflicted by the fear or reservation that bind the adults, fearlessly reaches for the package.  She hoists it up above her head before anyone can stop her, displaying it to the group.  She turns it over, examining it curiously.

            Her brother joins her.  Together, they kneel and  brush away the dust that has collected on its surface and begin to respectfully unwrap it.  The littlest child crawls to them to join in.  They urge the other family members to help.  The process is slow, for there is reverence about the package that keeps them from ripping and shredding the paper to devour its contents as they had previously to the other presents.

            Large and small and tiny hands take their turn at exposing its contents.   Unveiled, the family gazes at a simple wooden box, made of pine, unfinished.

            A glow emanates from with as the children lift the lid.   At first, it seems empty, but the Voices inside rise in timbre and the light shining out begins to strengthen its intensity. a hush falls over the gathered.   The radiant light begins to shine as though a handful of the sun’s might and power had been stuffed deep within and now has come to life.
            The light swirls around the room, driving shadows from every corner, touching those assembled with a warming strength that penetrates their marrow.
            The fearless children reach into the light and extract a card.   Sunlight dances upon their faces, washing them in a golden glow as they open the card and read the words scribed within—“This Is Your Gift Of Vigilance—Use It Well!”

            Eager to examine the gift,, the children dig into the box.   First, they extract a single rock.  Chiseled in it are the words:  “Semper Vigilantes”
            “What does that mean, G-Pa?” asks the youngest.   
            “It is Latin for “Always Vigilant,” the grandfather replies.
            The children reach in again, their innocent fingers buried in the brightness of the light.  One pulls out the word “Courage” inscribed on a piece of parchment.   Another extracts a similar piece of parchment with the word “Conviction” scribed on it, and the smallest child pulls out one that says “Action.”
            The mothers and fathers and grandparents and relatives kneel by the children.  The mother is compelled to reach in and extract the final piece of paper.   She pulls it out and slowly reads it to the family huddled around.
            “We, the victims of the Terrorist attack on September 11.  We offer you this Gift of Vigilance,” she reads.  “We gave our lives to protect you from FEAR, INTIMIDATION and COMPLACENCY.  These are the three weapons Terrorism uses to drive us away from our sense of security, to break our trust and faith in ourselves, and destroy our resolve as one people to stand up against them.    We offer you these three Shields of Vigilance to protect yourselves and your family from future harm.   We have not died.  We stand as one, Vigilant Body, unified in death and life, to help you protect your children, and all other families and children throughout the world, from Terrorism's grasp..  We are the Sentinels of Vigilance.   We ask you to become Parents of Vigilance.  To use Courage rather than Fear, Conviction in place of Intimidation, and take Action to keep Complacency at bay.    We will watch over all, but we ask you to remind yourselves we died for you...for we, like you, were Parents of Vigilance.  Now, we live on to remind you to never forget to protect your children, and their children's children, from any and all of Terrorism's attempts to cripple their spirit, or demean their existence."
             A hush fell as the mother clutched the children close.  Then she read the message again.  In the background the choir of Voices from within the box sang as she did, a chant, clearly making the words, "Semper Vigilantes--Always Vigilant" clear to all who were gathered.
            "I vow to become a Parent of Vigilance!" the mother said, rising from her knees, passing to each of the family members the words "Courage," "Conviction," "Action."
            "I vow also," said the father. "And me too," said a cousin.  "And, I will also," the grandparents said in unison.   "And me" chimed a child.  "I will be a Child of Vigilance."
            And so it went around the circle, uncles, aunts, cousins, loved ones, vowing to fight Terrorism with Courage rather than Fear, Conviction as opposed to Intimidation, and Action overpowering Complacency.
           "We are now united, in death and life," said the mother.  "We have the greatest present possible--Vigilance."
          And the box began to hum, as though an engine of strength, waiting for when its contents needed to be employed.    The family placed the box on the mantel so the single appointment on it could be seen, the logo of the letter "S" connected to the letter "V," and above it, the words: "Semper Vigilantes!"


Go To --Dec. 24--The True Gift of the Magi

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