|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
9, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 453
Cows Of Vigilance Jump Over Terrorism's Moon
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
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
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.
magic were in Union Square at the Cow Parade auction
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
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
It reminded me of the "Unknown
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
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.
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."
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.
I laughed and then asked, "What's your real
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
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
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"
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
"He really does look like Santa," commented a
woman in her thirties to her friend. "He's like...like a real
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.
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
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.
The Ab Ovo Of Terrorism--Its Beginning...Its End
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