Wednesday -- April 10, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 211
Daffodils of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City,
April 10--Nearly two million daffodils are blooming throughout New
York City, symbols of the resurrection of the Spirits of Vigilance.
September 11th devastated New
York City and America. It proved our vulnerability to
Terrorism--that the sanctuary of peace and prosperity was not exempt from
the horrors of Third World violence--that our children might not be safe
from the madmen of the world.
It was also a test of our will.
It forced New York City and America to take a look at Vigilance--at the
quality of one's personal and national constitution in the face of threats
of daily violence, and the sadness of innocent people being maimed and
brutalized by men of Terror.
The daffodils sprouting throughout
the city of New York, 1.8 million of them to be exact, are symbolic of the
resolve of the individuals and city to stand up to Terrorism.
In this month's issue
of the New Yorker Magazine, artist Michael Roberts depicts a
beautiful picture of Vigilance on the Back Page of the magazine.
He painted eight majestic daffodils periscoping above the city,
appearing like the Eyes of Argus,
searching the horizon, standing Vigilant against those who might
try to instill Fear, Intimidation or Complacency into a city
of vast diversity and limitless opportunity. (see
picture on right from The Back Page by Michael Roberts, New
April 8, 2002)
As I view the Portrait of Vigilance, I can
see the Sentinels of Vigilance, the souls of those who sacrificed their
lives in the World Trade Center attack, standing guard over the city of
New York, protecting the children of innocence, standing vigil over the
character of a community that refuses to be intimidated by those who might
target the power and might of the Big Apple in an attempt to cripple the
resolve of New Yorkers.
The daffodils refute such attempts.
They stand as guardians of the sinew that comprises a multi-ethnic
community whose power to rally its forces in the face of Terrorism comes
second to none.
I sought to enrich my understanding of the
daffodil after viewing the portrait by Michael Roberts, wondering why it
had been chosen to symbolize power and strength.
Searching the web through Google.com, I found a
fascinating array of reasons why the flower is the best choice to
represent the defiance New Yorkers have to any invasion of their physical
or emotional security by Terrorism.
The roots of the lore of daffodils go back to
Roman times, when they believed that the sap of the daffodil could heal
wounds. The Romans brought the plant to Britain.
flower is known as narcissus. Its name comes from Greek
mythology when a handsome young Greek named Narcissus was so loved by the
nymph Echo that when Narcissus broke off the relationship, the heartbroken
Echo hid in a cave and died.
Narcissus, so taken by his own beauty, that when
he saw his reflection in the water he fell in love with himself. As
he leaned over to get a better look, he fell into the water and drowned,
transforming into a flower, which became the first narcissus. The
drooping head of the flower is said to represent Narcissus stooping to
Reflecting on the Greek myth, I thought of the
Terrorists. They were so taken with their mad belief in
themselves that they gave no thought to others. All they could
think about was a blind devotion to a false belief that they could cripple
the spirit of America and Terrorize the world by flying airplanes into
buildings and killing thousands of innocent people.
They believed the ingredients of Terrorism--Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency--would seed itself in the soil of America's
heartland and poison the crops of Vigilance--stunting the growth of
Courage, Conviction and Action. They were as wrong as
the centuries, the daffodil, despite its self-indulgent mythological
history, has become a symbol of new beginnings. It is
one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. It reminds
people that winter's hold will soon be over.
I liked that analogy.
Terrorism, which certainly grips one's throat and heart when
it attacks, must be pushed aside. As the daffodil
shoves up through the crust of the earth, it sprouts the sign
of New Life, New Beginnings. It rich, vibrant colors,
its humble posture, represent both power and Vigilance, for
its periscoping nature make it look to the North, South, East
and West--as a sentinel might, guarding and protecting the innocent.
Daffodils are also the birthday
flower of March, the same month as the spring equinox that heralds
the beginning of a new season. In plant lore, daffodils
give good fortune to those who avoid trampling them.
I took this to mean that it makes us Vigilant. If
we become Complacent, forgetting that we must build our defenses
and keep a wary out for Terrorism of both the physical and emotional
nature, we trample our Sentinels of Vigilance. Then bad
luck comes our way--in the form on new waves of Terrorism.
The lore of the daffodil also
notes that one never has them at a wedding. To have
daffodils at a wedding, the lore warns, can call up the myth
of Narcissus and bring unhappy vanity to the bride.
The American Cancer Society, and other
cancer groups worldwide, use the daffodil as a symbol of hope
and a way to raise funds to fight the disease. Daffodil
Days is used to rejuvenate either one's belief in funding cancer
cures, or in memory of a victim of the disease.
The daffodil is the Sentinel of Vigilance in the war against
the Terrorism of cancer.
In New York City, the power of
the daffodil as a blazing symbol of Vigilance goes to Lynden
Miller, a premier garden designer and New York City Parks Council
Board Member. She can be called New York's Daffodil Sentinel
Mrs. Miller spearheaded The Daffodil Project as a tribute to
the valiant rescue and recovery effort of September 11th.
It was the largest citizen-driven planting effort in New York's
history with 10,000 volunteers helping plant hundreds of thousands
of daffodil and tulip bulbs throughout the five boroughs.
Hans Van Warrensburg, of B&K Bulbs
in the Netherlands, donated 500,000 daffodil bulbs and 90,000
yellow tulip bulbs to the project. The city of Rotterdam
also donated 500,000 bulbs. In addition, the Netherlands
Chamber of Commerce donated 40,000 tulip bulbs to be planted
in Battery Park, and TARGET retail stores offered $50,000 for
the purchase of supplies.
Vigilance blossoms in New York
Now, when I look at daffodil,
I think of it being an honor to the thousands who died on Nine
Eleven. But more importantly, I think of the attitude
of the flower itself.
It is an eye, a periscope, so
wonderfully captured in its glory by New Yorker artist Michael
Roberts. It stands above the city, watching, alerting
us not to become narcissistic--not to look at our own reflections
in the water and become Complacent. It reminds us
that Vigilance takes Courage, Conviction and Action before it
can sprout through the soil of Terrorism and blossom.
But most importantly, I think of not
trampling the daffodils. I think of respecting them
as I might not have before, for they are New York's and the
world's Daffodils of Vigilance.
To April 9--The Vigilance Wars
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