Article Overview:   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.


Friday--April 11, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 576
Taking A Bath In Vigilance:
A TerrorHunter's Day of Pride

Cliff McKenzie
   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 in Patriotism

        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 and words.
         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 Iraq

        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 groups.  

Previously I 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 enemy
       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 burning it.  
        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 Union workers.  

Black Hawk 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 Iraqi Freedom."
         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.  

  I 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 truth.  

Senator Bob 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 inaction.
        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.

Jubilant 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 North Korea.  
        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 produce $9,000.  

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 Jong Il?
        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 tyranny.

America 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.





Hard Hat Hurrahs for America and her Troops in Iraq


April 10--Tearing Down The Statues Of Terrorism

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