The VigilanceVoice
Wednesday -- April 10, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 211

Daffodils of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
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 Yorker Magazine, 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, 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.
     The 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 admire himself.
      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 Narcissus.

     Over 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 of Vigilance.
     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 City.
      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.

       Semper Vigilantes.

 Go To April 9--The Vigilance Wars

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