The VigilanceVoice
Thursday -- April 4, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 205

The Birthdays Of Terrorism & Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 4--History offers us start dates for Terrorism.  They are called birthdays.
        Two of those start dates are approaching.  One is April 20th, the other July 28 or 30th.
         Each date represents the birthday of two of modern civilization's most notorious Terrorists--Adolph Hitler and Osama bin Laden.
         Hitler, who led a war of genocide and frenetic madness to dominate the world, was born on April 20th, 1889.  If he were alive today, he would be approaching his 113th birthday.
         The other is Osama bin Laden.   His birthday is more elusive than Hitlers, for he claims to be born on 1377 hegira time.   The word "hegira" is derived from the Arabic word "to emigrate."   It refers to Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Yatrib on July 16, 622 A.D.  The date marks the beginning of the Muslim community and 622 is considered the first year in the Muslim calendar.  Ramadan, a holy month, is celebrated in July in honor of Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Yatrib which is known today as Medina.
         Bin Laden was born in 1957 but the exact date has been muddied.  Estimates based on his use of "hegira" time put his birthday somewhere between July 28 and July 30.  If these are accurate dates, he will be coming into his 44th birthday--that is, if he is still alive.
        Both Hitler and bin Laden sought to Terrorize the world.  While Hitler was driven by a madness for political and military power, Osama bin Laden is driven to achieve the same goals under the guise of a radical religious belief that includes the destruction of all "infidels."
        I am sensitive to birthdays because I have one approaching on May 7.   Mine seem to loom up like a runaway locomotive.  On each of my birthdays, I take stock of my life to see where I stand in relation to the time I've been on earth, and what I've done or not done to make my presence here worth the journey.
       Sometimes it is necessary to look at others to get a good benchmark of your own life.   Terrorism, and the battle to keep it at bay, is a major part of what I am today.  That brings into the spotlight both Hitler and bin Laden, my two choices for Terrorists Of The Millennium.
       Vigilance has a birthday also.   It is September 11, 2001.  It was born at exactly 8:46 a.m., the time when the first Terrorist plane smashed into the World Trade Center.
       From the ashes of that horrible day was born the Sentinels of Vigilance--the spirits of all the innocent victims of the tragedy who have formed a single body to unite America and the world against Terrorism.
        The spirits of those "victims" of the tragedy remain hovering over the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the farmer's field in Pennsylvania where Todd Beamer led a charge against the Terrorists commanding Flight 93 en route to bomb the White House.
        Unlike other memorials of victims, the Sentinels of Vigilance have given birth to a new way of life.    Their sacrifice becomes a lesson that each parent or loved one of children can embrace, regardless of political, social, economic, religious beliefs or differences.
        That lesson is to protect a child from Terrorism's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency by instilling in the child Courage, Conviction and Action on a daily basis.  The tool to achieve this goal is the Pledge of Vigilance--a vow taken on an ecumenical basis to dedicate ones self against Terrorism's destructive forces both on a physical and emotional level.
       To give such a pledge value requires we never forget that Terrorism is born each day in man different forms.   It so happens that two of those forms--Hitler and Osama bin Laden--are highly visible to all.   Their acts of destruction survive their lives.
       Their birthdays symbolize the start of an era.  Their deaths represent the memory that must not be forgotten.
       But their births are not without balance.

On April 8, the birth of Buddha will be celebrated.   There is some debate at to the exact year of his birth, but it is estimated to be between 563-483 B.C.   He is at least 2,500 years old.   Like the great religious leaders, he sought to bring peace and harmony to the world.   He was a Sentinel of Vigilance.
       Mohammed, the founder of Islam, did not promote violence.   He sought the equality of people, as did Buddha.   His birthday in June will be twisted by some to suggest the righteousness of "killing others" to preserve the purity of Islam.   But he would abhor such actions.
      Jesus Christ was born in December, 2002 years ago.   His mission was not unlike Mohammed's or Buddha's.    He too sought to bring peace and harmony to the world, casting light where shadows once kept the souls of the living and dead in prison.
      In examining birthdays, I find the most valuable to me is the knowledge that "good" and "evil" exist, almost within the same breath.
      Hitler and bin Laden were born in and around the birthdates of Buddha and Mohammed.    There are even those scholars who believe Jesus was born in the summer and not in December.
      As Terrorism exists within us all--or, at least its elements of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--so do the elements of Vigilance exist alongside those of Terrorism--Courage, Conviction and Action.
      Vigilance is about recognizing the existence of forces within us that attempt to turn our joys and happiness into sadness and and suffering.  
      Buddha taught people how find enlightenment through the Four Noble Truths:  1.) All forms of existence are subject to suffering, 2.) Suffering and rebirth are produced by desire, 3.) The end of suffering comes with the end of desire, 4.) The end of desire is reached by following the Noble Eight-Fold Path: right beliefs, right aims, right conduct, right effort, right speech, right occupation, right thinking, and right concentration.  His point was people should strive for wisdom and morality through meditation.
      Jesus brought a similar message--"to turn the other cheek."   His message was of kindness and charity to all, that we should learn to forgive others as we are forgiven.
     Mohammed sought to end the suffering of the many by teaching equality of the soul.   His enlightenment included a visit from the angel Gabriel who inspired him to write the Koran.
      All these great leaders of religious belief sought harmony in a world of chaos.   Many of their followers have twisted their messages to fit their own agendas, including the Crusades in which Christianity sought to dominate the world with its point of view.
      But among those who are elevated to the highest vistas of human adulation, I propose that the Sentinels of Vigilance, born September 9, 2001, should also be included in the Spirit Hall Fame.
      It is their birthday also that shines the Light Of Vigilance on the Terroristic Shadows of Terrorism cast by  Hitler's and bin Laden's birthdays.

 Go To April 3--Message In A Bottle--Vigilance is Alive And Well

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