Cows Of Vigilance Jump Over Terrorism's Moon
When the cows come home will Terrorism run the other way?   The cows did come home yesterday, and Santa was there to greet them.   They were on auction, and the lead cow was one that had no identity.  The cow forced me to see the Sentinels of Vigilance in all of us, as did Santa.    If you want to believe that one day Terrorism can be banished and Vigilance can rule, then all you have to believe is a "cow can jump over the moon, and a dish can run away with a spoon."


Monday--December 9, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 453
Cows Of Vigilance Jump Over Terrorism's Moon

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Dec. 9 -- The cows came home to New York City yesterday.  Over forty of them, that is.  And Santa was there to greet them.  They were a reminder that Terrorism is out to pasture.
       A couple of years ago New York City was invaded by 500 cows.   They appeared at strategic locations throughout the city, some standing on their hind legs and dancing, others resplendent with bright colors and scenes painted on their backs, quarters and udders, representing a particular artist's imagination and reflections of New York City life.

       Cow Parade NY 2000 was a public art exhibit created by Swiss artist Pascal Knapp. Amateur and acclaimed artists designed the cows that were sculpted by Knapp.  A charity auction  raised $1,351,000 benefiting several NY charities.  Then, in the aftermath of September 11, the rest of the herd disappeared.
       Yesterday they came home.
        Forty of them were auctioned off as part of the New York City Park's Historic House Trust.   Funds from the sale assist education and restoration projects around the city.
        I was wandering around the city as I do each morning, hunting signs of Terror and its counterpart, Vigilance.   The cows literally leaped in front of my camera's lens.
        As a kid, I remember the idea that "the cow jumped over the moon, and the dish ran away with the spoon."
        Kids have great imaginations.

Imagination is a child's precious gift

       The most precious part of  imagination is the belief that one can do anything.  The imagination knows no barriers.  It is a symbol human evolution can rise as far and wide as a "cow jumping over the moon, or a dish running away with a spoon."  It also means Terrorism can be defeated.  It allows us to believe the impossible is possible.
        The Cow Art brought back that sparkle of imagination to millions when they dotted the landscape of New York City, reminding us prior to Nine Eleven that what one can "conceive one can achieve."
        When Nine Eleven blasted the imagination of all into reality's darkest oblivion, it temporarily crushed the idea that "cows can jump over the moon."   For months, the stench of burning bodies and their ashes defiled the child in us who were there at Ground Zero, or who daily saw streams of screaming ambulances roaring up from the World Trade Center filled with body parts.  Terrorism beat the imagination out of us.   Nightmares replaced dreams.   The Beast of Terror's shadow replaced that of Hans Christian Anderson.

The child within us was tormented by the Beast of Terror

        Slowly, over the past 453 days, the Tides of Terror have receded.   Even with the impending Iraqi War clogging the headlines of newspapers and television news, the sparkle of human magic has found its way back to this city, and thousands throughout America.    It is the holidays.   It is time for magic to return.

Moo-la  and magic were in Union Square at the Cow Parade auction

       It did yesterday at the Cow Parade auction. 
      A few hundred people massed at Union Square to bid on the 40 "sacred cows" kept in "cow corrals" for easy viewing.   Prices started at $450 and went up from there.  The highest bid was $3,700 for a cow painted with the map of New York City.   A farmer and his wife bought it.  They said they were going to give it a respectful place on their farm as a symbol of Vigilance of life over the land, and as a tribute to the courage of New Yorkers who survived Nine Eleven with pride and dignity.
       My favorite cow, however, was the "Unidentified Cow."

The "Unidentified Cow" is a Sentinel of Vigilance

                           This particular cow looked as though it had been painted for the children. It had all kinds of scenes of young people, kids, and McDonald's on it.    It looked like it had been designed to reflect the safety and security of a local New York community neighborhood, where kids laugh and play at one of the City's countless parks, and parents and guardians keep Vigilant eyes on them as they enjoy the bursts of energy children exude as they swing and romp and run freely, as though the world was indeed a place where "cows jump over the moon and dishes run away with spoons."
       When I asked one of the auction representatives about the "Unidentified Cow," she told me that when they received the piece of art it had no nameplate.   Each cow has on its base the name of the artist and the name of the cow.  This particular one had neither.    Records of the artist could not be found, so the team preparing the cows for auction dubbed it the "Unidentified Cow."
        It reminded me of the "Unknown Soldier."

         In life, we label most everything.  It's our way of organizing and prioritizing our existence.   But then an anomaly comes along--something outside the loop--that challenges our imagination and our sense of order.    We are forced to give even the unidentifiable identification.
        Thus, the "Unidentified Cow."
        Not too many blocks south of Union Square rests Ground Zero.   In the compressed soil of the site is the blood of many unidentified victims of Nine Eleven--people who have yet to be officially recognized as victims of the Terrorists attack.   Many were illegal aliens, undocumented workers who have no proof of their existence at the site.   A friend of mine works with their families, attempting to get legal proof their husbands, sons, mothers, sisters, brothers worked at the Trade Center that day.   Ironically, the case files of such people equal about forty, the number of cows auctioned the other day.
        I thought of the Unidentified Cow as a symbol of all the nameless, faceless casualties of Terrorism.   In all our wars, we have tombs to the Unknown Soldiers.  They re resting places for those who died without official recognition, a depository of respect for the unaccountable.
        I was hoping that the Unidentified Cow would be bought by some Good Samaritan who would mount it near the World Trade Center in honor of the anonymity of those who died without recognition.   They would become our Unknown Sentinels of Vigilance and join the others who hover over Ground Zero as a constant reminder that Courage can defeat Fear, that Conviction can banish Intimidation and Right Actions wash away the Complacency that provides Terrorism a path to our doorsteps.
       But that didn't happen.  The cow was bought by an interior decorator.
      In my mind, the Unidentified Cow was the best of the show.   It symbolized far more than all the others, for it was the anonymous in us all that is always the hero.  It was the truck driver, an average guy about to retire, who used his semi to block in the Washington D.C.'s sniper car a few months ago.   It was the undocumented shoe shine man in the World Trade Center who held open the door so others could escape during Nine Eleven and died in a quiet unsung death while firemen and police were given endless tribute as the "heroes" of Nine Eleven.   It was the quiet, mousey secretary that no one knew existed that ushered everyone out the door of the 75th floor but never made it down the stairs herself that comprised the magic of the Unidentified Cow.
      Vigilance is not the privy of the "media heroes" of society.  It belongs to the quiet, faceless people who go about life with their heads held high and their belief in the future stronger than any Terrorist attack or threat to the future of human dignity and security.  It belongs to the man or woman who says "excuse me" when he or she brushes too close to a child, or opens a door for a mother with a stroller, or who tells someone using profanity near children to "cool it."  And it is most evident in the hearts of those who work to make the magic of belief strong in children--people like Santa Claus.
       He was there at the cow auction too.

Vigilant Starbucks passes out steaming drinks  and good will

       I saw him early in the morning, when set-up crew was finishing putting things in order.    Starbucks' roving coffee patrol had its minivan open and was serving free coffee and coco, passing out the steaming liquid to all who wandered by.   The four-person Starbuck "free coffee team" travels around the city to various events, promoting good will for the company and, on cold windy days such as yesterday, warming up chilled bones such as mine--and Santa's'.
       As I sipped a free coffee I noticed a man wandering through the Cow Corrals, examining the art.   He was a replica of St. Nick, with a coiffed white beard, a starburst smile, rosy red cheeks, cheerful squinting eyes, and an aura of man who could make "cows jump over the moon," and "dishes run away with spoons."
      I approached him and asked if I could take his picture because he looked so much like Santa.
      He replied:  "I am Santa."

Kris Kringle proving his identity

     Then he proceeded to show me his wallet and identification.   Sure enough, his ID, (or, as the skeptic in me suggested--the one he had made), noted he was Kris Kringle.  His home--the North Pole.  His age--Ageless.
      I laughed and then asked, "What's your real name?"
      Again, he replied, " Santa Claus."
      I prodded him again.  "Well, are you going to give Saddam Hussein and bin Laden a lump of coal?"
      He smiled at me, as a father might to a son, or a Vigilant mentor might a student, and said, "All children deserve gifts, not lumps of coal.  I give presents to the children of the heart.  Even the worst of people are children at heart.   I serve the children of the heart.   I give no lumps of coal."
      He said it in a charming, soft, gentle, Vigilant way.
      I understood what he meant.
      I realized that inside the most horrible of Terrorists was once a child, a person of innocence, who, for whatever reason, transformed the magic of life into its horrible counterpart.    I knew that all children were born free of the Beast of Terror, and only through parental and societal neglect, the Beast was allowed to permeate their souls, to eat at the marrow of their innocence until they no longer believed cows could jump over moons or dishes could run away with spoons.
       I nodded my agreement to Santa.  "You're right," I said.  For a brief moment I forgot that Vigilance can be switched on inside us and cast light where Terrorisms' shadow looms.  My lump of coal comment reminded me the abusive parent can stop abusing his or her children and become a Parent of Vigilance if he or she decides to banish the Beast of Terror and change the gloom of life into sunshine.   I forgot that the human spirit is still stronger than one can imagine and that there was still hope a suicide bomber climbing aboard a bus full of women and children and other innocent people could, at the last moment, choose not to let the Beast of Terror force them to push the plunger and blow themselves and others to bits.

Santa and Cliff McKenzie, editor, exchanging Vigilance views.

       I forgot the sniper with his or her finger on the trigger can change in the final hour and elect not squeeze it.
       I forgot the Society of Complacency can awaken and stop following the Beast of Terror's piping, and instead become a Sentinel of Vigilance who protects rather than destroys the children's children's children's rights to safety and security.
       Kris Kringle gave me a lesson in Vigilance amidst the Cow Parade.
       He reminded me that Vigilance is far more than a dream or aspiration.  He believed he was Santa.  He believed he was the Sentinel of Joy, the Spirit of Vigilance for Children in us all.  He reminded me that all adults are truly children with thick adult skins hiding the "child within."  He reminded me the greatest Christmas present was the one that freed a child from the Beast of Terror's grip, that drove from the child the poisons of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, and in their place, filled their minds and hearts with Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.

"He really does look like Santa"

       Later that afternoon my wife and I went to 19th and Broadway where Santa told me he was greeting the young children and parents at ABC Furnishings.   I took a few pictures of him sitting in his uniform.  He was a resplendent symbol of the Magic of Belief.
      "He really does look like Santa," commented a woman in her thirties to her friend.  "He's a real Santa."

The "Unidentified Cow" leading the herd to jump over the moon of Terrorism

         When the young woman expressed her amazement at the appearance of Kris Kringle, I heard her adult Voice give way to that awe of the child within.   Her outsides might have "grown up" but her insides were still hoping that Santa existed, that he was real, that one day the world might be a place where children could believe with passion that the future was about cows jumping over the moon, and dishes running away with spoons, and not about World Trade Center attacks, or biochemical weapons being unleashed, or snipers shooting people at random, or children being abused, or people standing by waiting for Godot to come and save them.
        I thought of the Unidentified Cow.    I thought of how it reminded us we all need to believe just a little more in the power of Vigilance than in the power of Terrorism.
       Yes, I pondered, the Sentinels of Vigilance can jump over the moon of Terrorism.  Yes, they can make Terrorism run away with the spoon.
       On that day when the cows jump over the moon and the dish runs away with the spoon, the cows will truly come home. 
        They will be led by the Unidentified Cow, who is, despite all our efforts to deny it, the Child of Vigilance in us all.

Dec. 8-- The Ab Ovo Of Terrorism--Its Beginning...Its End

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