When does a TerrorHunter revel? Is it when he sees victory in
Iraq, or when he sees the Freedom of a people served by the
willingness of a nation to die for others? Find out how
the Pro American rally at the World Trade Center offered a Bath of
Vigilance for a tired TerrorHunter.
11, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 576
Taking A Bath In Vigilance:
A TerrorHunter's Day of Pride
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Apr. 11--I took a bath yesterday. I
bathed in Patriotism. I washed the slime of
Anti-Americanism from my body. I was proud I was a
TerrorHunter wallowing in the glow in of TerrorHunting Victory
I took a bath
I took the bath in
Patriotism at Ground Zero. The New York labor unions
organized a major rally in support of American troops in Iraq at the
World Trade Center site. I hopped on the "R" train and made my
way downtown from the East Village to capture the moment in pictures
It was a quite different group
than the protestors who marched against the war from Times Square to
Washington Square Park a few weeks earlier. For weeks I had
waded into the heart of the anti-American, anti-war protestors and bit
my tongue as they spewed invectives and hatred toward America's war
policy, against American leadership.
Yesterday, the groups I joined
weren't the young college kids, stirred by the old Vietnam War
protestors and socialists who angrily attacked America as a
war-mongering nation seeking to exchange oil for blood.
The New York City Labor Unions cheered American troops in
The construction workers at the
pro-America rally yesterday were mostly men with leathery hands, hard
harts, and gravelly Voices shouting "USA! USA! USA!"
These were the guys that
grappled with the rubble in the World Trade Center for months, digging
for human life in the immediate aftermath of the attack that took
nearly 3,000 lives, and then later for bones, and finally for any
scraps of clothing or signs that might identify a lost life.
They were from ironworkers unions, and steam and pipe-fitters unions,
and carpenters unions--the gritty, earthy guys whose raw knuckles
built America. They were the guys who grunt and break their
backs in a hard day's work building the structures that war
protestors enjoy--homes, buildings, businesses. They were the
infrastructure of America.
They are "blue-collar" workers, men
and some women who dig the foundations for America and construct the
structures that rise up as icons of prosperity for the world to envy.
These construction workers have
little respect for war protestors. They call them "commie
pinkos" and laugh because they say most of them have never worked an "honest
day in their lives." They sneer at the protestors because the
majority of them suckle on the fruits of freedom without ever earning
the right to protest. They don't get their "hands dirty
building America" but instead spend their time tearing it down,
finding faults in its structures while drinking lattes at Starbucks.
Many construction workers consider the protestors Terrorists
disguised as Americans, meek intellectuals who hide behind the shield
of Free Speech but who run from risk and danger at the first "boo!"
There is a huge gap between the two
had walked with protestors who sucked up America's freedoms and
defamed the administration
When I walked with the tens of
thousands of protestors against the war over the past months, I found
them to be young, idealistic radicals, clean-clothed, smooth faced
children of the middle and upper middle classes shouting their hatred
for America's leadership. They carried banners likening
President Bush and his Administration to Hitler, and calling them the
Axis of Evil. They were the kinds of kids who spat on me
when I returned from Vietnam, the ignorant and unwilling to risk their
lives for freedom, willing to wag their tongues at those who offered
their lives and sucking up America's freedoms, but not willing to put themselves in harm's way.
At the end of the bitter anti-war march
where tens of thousands marched from Times Square to Washington Square
Park, these protestors burned American flags and maced the police.
Their violence resulted in nearly 100 arrests and the hospitalization
of six police officers.
I was reminded
war is never over for those the enemy holds captive
Yesterday's rally was the opposite of
all those to which I'd been. American flags flew in a sea of
red-white-and blue. It was sprinkled with black MIA/POW flags,
reminders that the war is never over for those held captive by the
Some of the construction
workers draped themselves in the American flag, others held small
flags in their big, burly hands. Through the jammed
crowd estimated to be between 15,000-25,000, weaved a mother with a
picture of her son, a Marine Corporal who was killed when a sniper
shot his tank driver and the tank crashed off a bridge into the
Euphrates River, killing all aboard.
The mother of
a Marine killed in Iraq honored her son
From the platform, Senator Bob
Doyle, a veteran of WWII where he received a crippling wound to his
arm, extolled the virtues of America's success. "The gulag that
Saddam and his henchmen took three decades to create, Tommy Franks and
his coalition forces took only three weeks to dismantle," he said.
Governor George Pataki stopped by to
salute the troops, and Reverend Brian Jordan read the names of the 101
Americans killed so far in the Iraqi war.
For me, it was a respite from the
countless anti-war rallies I have attended. No one was
screaming how ugly and cruel America was, or spitting on the flag or
Just over a week ago I had been to
the Fifth Avenue "die-in" when protestors rushed out and sprawled in
the middle of the street, representing the dead civilians killed by
American bombs. I remember them laughing and cheering as
they crashed through police barricades, their Voices filled with jeers
and cheers, as though their protest was a game.
There was no such game yesterday.
The pro-war faces were older, carved
with lines of experience, their flesh bronzed by the sun and crinkled
by weather. The Voices were deep and mature, unlike the
pubescent screeches of protestors in the teens, spewing spittle as
they shouted invectives against America.
I felt comfortable in the crowd
yesterday, representative of more than 100,000 Construction and Trade
helicopters flew overhead
When Black Hawk helicopters flew
overhead, I saluted. My Marine Corps pride stiffened.
Then, the announcer on the PA system
told us the troops in Iraq were watching by satellite, and to give
them a big USA cheer. I joined the crowd, "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
I wasn't neutral. I was
very partisan. I felt like a member of FOX News, accused by the
media of favoring America in its reporting. Envious media
critics chided the FOX network--which had the highest ratings of any
network for war coverage--for flying an American flag in the corner of
the screen and using the military's name for the operation, "Operation
I found it hard to divorce my
personal opinions from my reporting. I had done my best over the
past month to show both sides, to try and let the balance fall.
But yesterday, I let my
feelings go. I felt like I was in a bathtub, washing off
the slime of anti-American protest I had bathed in over the past
weeks. I was with my own kind.
remember human beings spiraling down to their deaths
A survivor of Nine Eleven, I remember the roar of the buildings as
they collapsed, and the screams of people panicking as we all thought
we are about to die. I remember the human beings leaping from burning windows in the World
Trade Center, spiraling down to their deaths.
I remember the construction workers
digging through the rubble--big, strong men with tears in their eyes,
some with bloody fingers ripping at shards of concrete in desperate
search for survivors.
I remember the smell of the World Trade
Center pit when my wife and I walked down the ramp with hundreds of
family members in May of last year when the final memorial was held in
salute to the dead, the victims of Terrorism.
When Senator Doyle said yesterday, "The war
in Iraq started here on September 11," I knew he was speaking the
Doyle said "The war in Iraq started here on September 11."
I have always believed our fight in
Iraq was America's way of standing up to Terrorism. It was
America's way of announcing to the world that Terrorism will be dealt
with by lightening bolts, not by idle threats or diplomatic wrangling
with toothless resolutions issued from a emasculated United Nations
that takes no action against tyranny but instead fosters it through
It was America's stand as a
TerrorHunter, vowing to use the Sword of Vigilance against the Beast
of Terror--willing to cut its head off in a swift, efficient swath.
I thought of how fragile Terrorism
really is. The Iraqis didn't resist America's invasion.
They cheered it. Once convinced Saddam was on the run,
they tore down his statues and danced in the streets, banging their
shoes on the decapitated head of Saddam's figure.
Iraqis banging shoes on Saddam's decapitated statue head
Had they been loyal to the regime,
they would have been willing to die for his leadership. Instead,
they were truly liberated. The Beast of Terror was gone.
All in 21 days.
I thought of all the war protestors
and what they must have thought when they saw the Iraqis leaping with
joy when the statues of Saddam were ripped down. Did they
feel embarrassed? Were they ashamed?
In Vietnam, 'my war', America backed
down. It ran scared. Politics overpowered purpose.
The Beast of Terror won that war.
In Iraq, there was redemption--not
for the United States, but for Vigilance. There was no
surrender to principles.
So I took a bath yesterday.
With my hard-hat buddies, I cheered.
I cheered not the victory of war as
much as I cheered America's resolve to fight the Beast of Terror.
I thought of Kim Jong Il, the head of
He has 1.1 million troops, 1,710
aircraft, 500-600 Scud missiles, and 100 Rodong missiles able to reach
Japan. He spends most of his nation's money on military
defense. His 22 million citizens produce $706 per capita
of their gross national product, while their neighbors in South Korea
Will Kim Jong
Il heed America's message to him?
Kim Jong Il sells missiles and
weapons to nations to wage war on other nations. He is
threatening to produce nuclear weapons to do expand his power, and to
possibly sell them to rouge nations. An estimated 2
million people starved in his country last year.
What message did America send to Kim
Will he be as bold as Saddam was in
defying the world? Or, will he learn from the lesson
America taught Saddam that despite the United Nations the United
States is willing to fight Terrorism?
Then there are Iran and Syria, and God
knows whomever else is planning to threaten the world with weapons of
mass destruction. What lesson did they learn?
For years, America has let the
bullies push her around. It was as though the legacy of Vietnam
haunted America's machoism, and instead of making us the "defender of
freedom" we were becoming like France and Germany, a nation who looked
on, fearful of risking our reputation by attacking injustice and
carries the Sword of Vigilance in her hand
Yesterday, I felt America carries a big stick in her hand.
The stick is the Sword of Vigilance.
We had driven away the Beast of
Terror. The Fear that wracked Iraqis was replaced with a new
Courage. The Intimidation Saddam's reign demeaned its people
with had been lifted and Conviction reared its head, helping the
Iraqi's leap with joy at being released from tyranny.
Complacency was dead in Iraq. Right Actions replaced
it--the actions necessary to find a new freedom.
Yes, I took a bath yesterday.
I bathed in Vigilance.
You can too!
Just take the Pledge of Vigilance.
10--Tearing Down The Statues Of Terrorism
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