Article Overview:   Who are the real peace protestors?  Are they the people walking down the safe streets of America, protected by the Constitution and police, people risk free from harm?   Or, are they the troops in Iraq, risking their lives to free a people so they can live by choice rather than under the shadow of tyranny and oppression?   Make a decision after you read this "Letter To The Real Peace Protestors--The Warriors Of Vigilance In Iraq!"


Monday--March 24, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 558
 A Letter To The Real Peace Protestors--The Warriors Of Vigilance In Iraq
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 24-- A Letter To The Real Peace Protestors:

Dear Warriors of Vigilance,

         I salute you in your battle with the Beast of Terror.
         My name is Cliff McKenzie. I am  a TerrorHunter. 
         I fought the Beast of Terror in Vietnam as you are fighting it now in Iraq.  I understand the Beast knows no borders.  

Cliff McKenzie,USMC, TerrorHunter

        I was a U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondent with 1st Marine Division.  My primary field unit was the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines  My job was to fight first and then record the legacy of the warriors, like you, who offered their lives 24/7 to free a land from tyranny and oppression.  Even though I was in the Marine Corps for only three years, I have never forgotten my role as a TerrorHunter.

       I was also at Ground Zero when the Terrorists attacked on Nine Eleven.  I witnessed the horror as thousands of innocent people were crushed to their deaths, the first attack on American soil since the War of 1812.   On that day, I donned my "combat correspondent" helmet and have daily published articles against the Beast of Terror on my websites--  and on the VigilanceVoice, my daily publication against Terrorism located at 
         Unlike civilian news reporters embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, I carried a weapon in Vietnam.  As a U.S. Marine, my first mission was to neutralize the enemy.  When the smoke cleared from battle, I recorded the heroism of my fellow Marines--both those who lived and those who sacrificed their lives for the future freedom of the children of a far and distant land.  I was a warrior-poet, capturing for history's sake the bravery and courage of those who faced death so others could be free.

       I often moved from one unit to another, racking up nearly 100 combat operations.  My search for heroism took me on patrols and ambushes around our perimeter near Chu Lai.  I engaged the enemy in numerous battles and was part of the first amphibious landing in since the Korean War.  I dug foxholes, swatted mosquitoes, drank water from rice paddies, helped drag my wounded fellow Marines from cross fires when we were ambushed, and rocked the dying in my arms.
        Like you, I left my loved ones in America. I was engaged to be married.  But I had another love.  It was the love of duty to my country, and a deep love for the Principles of Freedom which had been passed on to me from generations before.
        I joined the Marine Corps just prior to the onset of the Vietnam War as part of my belief I owed my country a debt—a repayment for the great freedoms I had been given.  Such freedoms included the right to Voice my opinion on anything I wanted without fear of reprisal.  
         I landed in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division eager to fight the Beast of Terror.   Terrorism, I believed then and now, is a disease.   It breeds in its victims Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  It is delivered usually by tyrants and dictators who have little respect for human rights.  But it can also creep inside one's mind and infect one's sense of Vigilance.  The termites of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency can gnaw at one's Courage, Conviction and Right Actions in behalf of the Children's Children's Children.  It's intent is always to cripple one's resolve, to weaken the foundations of patriotism, and to foul one's mind in a quagmire of doubt so that hesitation and reservation replaces instinct and action.

Headstone at Arlington Cemetery

       Thirty-eight years ago I believed that the war in Vietnam was all about freeing the people from the thumb of Terrorism.  I believed our mission was to replace Fear with the Courage, to extract the walls of Intimidation that choked one's Convictions, and to exile the oppression of Complacency so that the people felt secure in exercising their duty to take Right Actions that would preserve the security of their children, and their Children's Children's Children.  I still believe that.  And I believe it is the same primary mission you face in Iraq.
       I keep one memory burning brightly in my mind to reinforce that belief.   It was the day we defended a small village called Mo Duc during the first democratic election held in Vietnam.  

Sunrise in Vietnam

        The Viet Cong threatened to kill any villager who cast a vote.   Our unit set up blocking forces to protect the people from being assassinated if they attempted to vote. Other units did the same throughout the country.  We came under heavy attack the night before the elections and lost a number of Marines, one of whom died in my arms.   I remember waiting anxiously as the sun rose.  I concernedly peered down  Highway One, straining to see if the villagers would risk their lives to vote.  The dried blood of my fellow Marine still clung to my hands.
        As the sun began to rise, my heart raced.  Highway One was empty.   The Southeast Asian sun climbed higher.  I worried that all our efforts to liberate the people would be for naught.  I prayed they wouldn't be.  How could they not, I thought, exercise the right of freedom?
         Slowly, they began to appear.  One by one, Vietnamese farmers in black pajamas slipped out of the jungle.  At first they formed small black dots in distance. The dots grew larger in number as the sun rose.   Soon, the road was swollen with barefoot people moving fearlessly toward the village where a ballot box awaited.   They were on an historic journey to cast their first vote for freedom.  We began to cheer.
       When I returned from Vietnam, protestors spat upon me.  Many called me a “baby killer.”   Others screamed, ranted and jeered at me.   I gritted my teeth, and have ever since.  But I never lowered my head.  Instead, I squared my shoulders and walked proudly.
        What the protestors didn’t understand or comprehend was a place called Mo Duc.  They were incapable of fathoming that American Warriors of Vigilance were in Vietnam for one overriding reason-- so that a Vietnamese could cast a fair democratic vote.   Over the ensuing nearly four decades, I have heard many criticisms of the war in Vietnam, some vehemently shot at me like canons, others tossed like hand grenades at my feet and still others set in my path like booby traps.  Mo Duc has been my flack jacket.
         Despite their vitriolic accusations, I knew in my heart why I had fought and why my friends had died.
         In such moments I replayed the elation of the villagers when they cast their votes in Mo Duc.  I recalled their bravery in the face of death threats to put their mark on a ballot--their way, I believe, of insuring their children's future freedom.  I witnessed the citizens of Vietnam exercise what we take for granted—the freedom to chose one’s destiny rather than to have it stuffed down our throat.

Warriors of Vigilance bleeding for Freedom

        I believe each drop of American blood that soaked into Vietnamese soil fertilized the growth of Freedom.    Even though that war ended without a victory, the victory came.  It came to me via a young man about a decade ago.
         I was working with a franchise company helping establish new businesses in America and the free world.   The word franchising means to be "free from servitude."  I had been drawn to that industry after the war because it was an ultimate example of freedom.  A person could start a business and build it into a success overnight, a feat almost impossible any place else in the world.  He or she could be his or her own boss, serving no one but the customer and principles of free enterprise.
          A young Vietnamese American youth happened to be working in our mail room while he attended college.   The incident occurred when he found out I had been in Vietnam.  He asked if he could talk to me.  
         I put my pencil aside as he stood before me in my office. I asked him to sit down and be comfortable but he said he would rather stand.  As he spoke, he took the position of attention.  “I want to thank you for risking your life for me and my family.  I owe my freedom to you and your friends.  And, I’ve never done this.  But I want to salute you.”
         I rose slowly from my desk.  The young man raised his hand to his brow, saluting me with tears in his eyes.   I stiffened and returned his salute.  He then bowed at the waist, and said “Thank you from all my people.”  He turned and left my office.
         I stood for a long, reflective moment.   Over the past twenty-eight years, there had been much pain on my soul, placed there by a society bent on desecrating the actions of America and issuing indictments of warmongering and crimes against those who fought in Vietnam.  There were times when I staggered under their weight.  No one had ever thanked me for my service.

          The young man's words of gratitude washed away all the doubts that might have crept into my thoughts over the past years.  I recalled the faces of the villagers of Mo Duc and my countless fellow Warriors of Vigilance who had sacrificed their lives to give this young man and his parents--who had escaped Vietnam-- the rights of Liberty.  I thought about all the Americans in the past who had done the same so that my children, and my Children's Children's Children could enjoy them.  I stood taller than I had ever stood that day.   The Beast of Terror, the one who was doing battle inside my mind, had been mortally wounded.
          Today, you may face the wounds of war in your mind.  Every Warrior of Vigilance faces moments of doubt, moments of concern about what he or she is doing is "right," is "just," is "necessary."
          I can only speak from one man's point of view, but I assure you what your are doing is "right," is "just" and is "necessary."
          I can also attest that part of your our battle is against the Beast of Terror that stalks your mind.  That Beast of Terror isn’t just Saddam Hussein or the tyranny and oppression his regime wreaks on his people.  Certainly, Saddam Hussein represents the epitome of the Beast, but the Beast has many heads.
           One of the Beast's many heads can tunnel its way into the pores of our minds.  Insidiously, like any virus, it can try to rip and claw away at our resolve that we are fighting a just war for a just reason.  It can attempt to bring upon us shadows of doubt, seeking to make us hedge in our beliefs we are doing the right things for the right reasons.  This is especially true when a large numbers of people around the world shout and flog us with invectives and call us names that are better not to repeat.
          As the war in Iraq thickens and the bullets zing closer, as the news from the home front bombards you with pictures and words of protests, the virus of doubt can be sparked.  The seed of the Beast of Terror can be fertilized, and we can begin to question our own intentions.
          I vividly remember the pain of hearing my countrymen and countrywomen screaming at me thousands of miles away, telling me that fighting for people’s freedom in a foreign land was somehow a crime, implying by default that I was a criminal.
          It hurt to think some Americans and many around the world would be so selfish as to deny the children of another land their fair and just right to live under the flag of freedom rather than sleep in the shadow of oppression and tyranny.
          At the same time, I realized that true Liberty included the right to dissent.   And even if that dissent was ill-informed, ill-conceived, ill-delivered I knew that Freedom carries with it the sounds of many Voices, some that are sweet, others that are sour.
          The other day, for example, I took my camera and reporting tools and covered the New York City Peace March that launched from Times Square at 42nd Street and flowed down to Washington Square.   A crowd estimated by police to be 125,000 (protest organizers claimed it was 250,000), took three-and-a-half hours to jeer their way down more than forty blocks.

      Sign that should have been held up at protests

           Thousands of signs protested war.  The vast majority lambasted America's role in Iraq and cruelly attacked its leadership. Many likened our President to Adolph Hitler.   It sickened me that there weren’t signs protesting Saddam Hussein, or his historic tyranny or oppression of Iraqi people.  I didn’t see a single sign mentioning that Saddam killed two of his grandchildren’s fathers and dragged their bodies through the streets of Baghdad.  There was nothing about the fact he had gassed thousands of Kurdish women and children who rose up against his policies, or that he executed his dissenters, or placed them in prisons, or raped their mothers and wives as punishment for dissent.
          At the end of the march, a group of demonstrators in Washington Square attacked the police with pepper spray. They sent nearly a dozen officers to the hospital.   Ninety-one protestors were arrested.
          I found it ironic that most the protestors will receive a hand slap and be sent home to protest another day and to brag about their defiance of civil authority.  In Iraq, had they rallied against Saddam, they would have been unquestionably beaten, tortured and dragged through Baghdad, as Saddam did his grandchildren’s fathers.
          I also thought about the protestor's lack of sacrifice.
          There is little, if any, for protestors in America, or in other nations that respect individual freedom..  
          I  wondered how many protestors would have taken to the streets if they knew that when they got to Washington Square Park they would be met with a ring of snipers, randomly shooting one out of ten of them   I wondered how many protestors would be willing to sacrifice their lives for their belief in peace if their lives depended on their beliefs.  I concluded the streets of New York would have been bare.

Warriors of Vigilance

          In contrast, you, the Warriors of Vigilance, have chosen to take such a risk.  When you enlisted in the Armed Services, you agreed to defend Liberty and Freedom with your lives, as I did many years ago.  You offered your lives as a testimony of your belief in the virtues of democracy, to defend your nation against the forces of Terrorism.
          That makes you the true Protestors of Peace, not those who walked down the streets of New York, or San Francisco, or Chicago, or anywhere else in the world demeaning you and your country..
          Someone once said that ultimate measure of one’s faith is his or her willingness to die for it.
          When I went to Vietnam, I had an undying faith in Liberty and Freedom.  I believed then, as I do now, that unless one is ready, willing and able to put his or her life on the line for the security of others, one’s beliefs in peace and prosperity are simply fodder, mere wisps of wind, simple illusions.
          In Vietnam, one of my closest friends attested to this.  He was a Catholic priest.  His name was Lieutenant Vincent Capadonno.   Unlike most chaplains who avoided the combat zone, Father "Cap"  went with us deep into enemy territory.   He didn’t sit in his armchair, safe from harm’s way.  He didn't pray in the security of a chapel far from the enemy's sights.   He walked with us through the snipers, the booby traps, the ambushes, the battles.  He comforted us, reminded us that we were Warriors of Vigilance, prayed over us, and offered ecumenical services so we might all know we were fighting for something much larger than ourselves or our country.
         Armed only with his faith, Father Cap crawled from one Marine to another during firefights, reassuring the frightened, patching the wounded, praying over the dead.
         I have never known a braver man.
         When I rotated from Vietnam, I asked Vince if he would marry my wife and me when he returned in a few months.  He agreed.  But he never made it back alive.  In a fierce battle following my departure, he continually dragged wounded Marines to safety. Despite being wounded several times, he continued until he was finally killed.   He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his acts of bravery.
          Vince knew about Freedom and Liberty.  He knew the price it took to preserve it.   In his case, it was his life.

        As a fellow Warrior of Vigilance, I want you to know that those Voices screaming out dissent should encourage not discourage you.   As much as I abhor and detest the words they say and how they say them, I am proud our country and other nations that respect individual rights allows dissenting Voices to cry out without fear of suffocation.
          If you hear the protestor's screams in your ears, don’t let them become the growls of the Beast of Terror.  Don't let the seeds of Terrorism--its Fear, Intimidation or Complacency--take root inside your mind.  Unless you are Vigilant in your thinking, as Vigilant as you would be on patrol in enemy territory, the Beast of Dissent will infiltrate.   He is skilled at his craft.  He is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  I know.  I've been attacked by him countless times.
           To master Vigilance, consider the Vigilance Formula. It is:  Courage minus Fear Plus Conviction minus Intimidation Plus Right Actions For The Children's Children's Children minus Complacency Equals Vigilance.   
     (Courage - Fear + Conviction - Intimidation + Right Actions - Complacency = Vigilance)
          It is a formula that has worked for me and many others.
          It will help you when the Beast of Dissent infiltrates your mind.

Battling  the Beast of Fear

        When, and if, you feel the creeping hand of Fear clutching you, call upon the Sentinels of Courage.   Ask for at least one percent more Courage than Fear to battle with the Beast.   Think of the 1.7 million Americans who have been killed or wounded fighting in foreign lands since World War I, each offering his or her life for people outside the U.S. borders.
          Remember that America--in all the wars it has ever fought for others--has never conquered any nation it is has liberated. 
        All of Europe, once a prisoner of Hitler's Beast of Terror, was freed by America's Courage to face off  the Beast of Terror.  Even though Europe today may lambaste America, their right of dissent is a gift our nation helped preserve and with no strings attached.
          Japan is another reminder of Vigilance over Terrorism.  America overcame the Beast of Terror's Intimidation, and stood with Conviction against it.  Today, Japan is a thriving economic giant, enjoying freedoms unequalled in Asia. We did not conquer Japan, we liberated it.
          South Korea is yet another example.   It would have been easy to fall victim to Complacency after fighting World War II.  America could have hidden in its shell of comfort and Complacency and let the Beast of Terror take over yet another land.  But we fought Complacency with Right Actions.  We stood firm on our belief that the freedom of the children of South Korea, and their Children's Children's Children were far more important than our own safety.  South Korea's democratic strength today, versus the tyranny and oppression that exists in North Korea, stand as testimony to the power of Vigilance to preserve peace.
         And, even though we did not complete our mission in Vietnam, I know that the symbol of Mo Duc stands in the minds of those who were there that day.  I know its spark will never die.  One day, Vietnam will be a free nation, for freedom is the right of all, regardless of all politics.  One day there will be a monument built in Mo Duc.  There is one in my mind already.

You are the real Protestors for Peace

        Finally, there was the fall of the communism, symbolized by the crumbling of the Berlin Wall.  Today, Russians enjoy the right to enjoy their own destiny rather than have it dictated.   Freedom rules when we, Warriors of Vigilance, stand up for it despite all who criticize us. 
          Terrorism can only be defeated when we attack it not only in our minds but physically as well.  When we summon one percent more Courage than Fear, and boost our Convictions one click above our Intimidation, and remember that Complacency can only be replaced by Right Actions that benefit the future security of the children, and their Children's Children's Children--only then will we truly defeat the Beast of Terror.
         You are the real Protestors for Peace.   You are risking your lives so that an Iraqi citizen might cast a vote one day for his or her Freedom and Liberty, as the villagers of Mo Duc did.
         Beware the Beast of Terror, for he will do his best to weaken you.   Be a Warrior of Vigilance and one day the citizens of Iraq will salute you.  And if they don't today, their children will tomorrow.


         Cliff McKenzie



Mar. 23--Anti-War Protest Turns Into War

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