The VigilanceVoice
Sunday -- April 7, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 208

Chasing Sean Connery...
"Vigilance & The Kilt"
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 7--Chasing Sean Connery up 6th Avenue, across 59th Street, and into 7th Avenue entrance of Central Park may not seem like a courageous act when the world is filled with other priorities in the battle of Terrorism, but yesterday it served as a nice respite, another way to use Vigilance to fight Terrorism.
         On Saturday, April 6, 10,000 bagpipers from around the world gathered in kilts and sporrans to march through the heart of New York City as part of the Tunes of Glory parade. The mission was two-fold:  one, to raise $1 million for cancer charities (including New York City based Gilda's Club), and two, to promote Scotland.
         The First Minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell, (see picture at right) said in a BBC news report that as a result of September 11 tourism in Scotland has dropped 25%.  "We will show Americans that not only is Scotland a first class tourist destination, but that our economy has an important connection with America," said McConnell.
         My wife, a breast cancer survivor, did not go to the parade with the intention of supporting anything except seeing the "sexiest man alive," next to me, of course.   (I truly doubt my inclusion in her comment has much veracity, but she, flashing a smile claims it does).   
         On our way uptown we weren't aware Sean Connery was going to lead the parade.   We got right up to the start line of the parade when the crowd around us burst into applause.   And then it happened.
          "Sean!  Sean!  Sean!"
          Pandemonium exploded on the corner of 45th and 6th Avenue as the icon of male virility, and heartthrob of young and old women, appeared in his kilt, brandishing his famous salt and pepper beard, grinning widely to the crowd, and giving a staunch thumbs up to all.
         "Sean!  Sean!  Sean!"
         My wife's Voice shrilled over the others.  She had de-evolved from a mature middle aged woman into a screaming teeny bopper.  
         "Here Sean!  Look here!"
         For a moment I thought she might flash her one breast, or the beautiful butterfly tattoos she has indelibly inscribed where her right one was removed. It is a symbol of her courage and conviction to face the disfigurement of her womanhood with grace and majesty.   
         "Get a picture!  Get a picture!"
         I had my camera ready, not for Sean Connery, but to take pictures of the parade.  I had thought about wearing my kilt--a beautiful tartan I had custom fitted in Edinburgh, Scotland from the oldest of all kilt makers.  Instead, I opted to wear my New York Shields Pipe & Drum T-shirt a law enforcement friend of mine had given me.
         Vigilance is required to take Sean Connery's picture amidst thousands of onlookers crammed onto the crowded streets of New York City.   Such a task requires Courage, Conviction and lots of Action.
          I tried lots of techniques as fast as I could.  I raised the camera over my head.  I used the telephoto.   I tried to crush through the fans waving and screaming:  "Sean! Sean!  Sean!"
         "You go ahead, I'll catch up," my wife shouted, urging me to rush through the maze of people to the next intersection so I could be prepared when he--the idol--came by.   Being of Scotch descent, and a Sean Connery fan, I felt no jealousy or envy.  He symbolizes for me the kind of stately, sexy older man every man should aspire to be.  So I began to jog and weave my 270-pound, six-foot-four inch body through the bodies jamming the streets. It wasn't a piece of cake.
         This is where Vigilance and Terrorism collide.
         One the one hand, I was attempting to be very Vigilant as I brushed by people hurriedly, my body twisting and my legs following a serpentine path through the people strolling along, gawking, jamming the passageway ahead.  
         Terrorism filled my mind as I wondered whether I might knock over an old lady with a walker, or step on someone's toy poodle being taken out for breath of fresh air, or stumble and fall into a mother and baby stroller.
         Sweat dripped down my forehead as I fought the urge to push and shove people out of the way and yell:  "I gotta get this picture of Sean Connery for my wife--so getouttdaway!"
         I made it to the next corner.  As I raised the camera up it froze.  The batteries had died.   I madly ravaged my camera pouch for fresh batteries, ejecting the old ones and fumbling to insert the new ones--four of them--each has to be placed in exactly the right slot.   By the time I was ready to shoot again, Sean had passed.
        "Go!  Go!"  My wife urged as I spun about and dashed up another block, this time avoiding the sidewalk and running around a large statue of a headless, armless woman with only one breast.  A week earlier my wife and I had taken a series of pictures of it, wondering why the sculptor had removed one breast--and then deciding that perhaps it was a message to her, and to all other women who suffer breast cancer, that beauty exists despite the facade of breasts, that womanhood is not defined by how many breasts you have, or how big or large they are--but rather because you are woman.  The sheer beauty of a woman--yes, we decided, that was the artist's point.
        I found a clear sprinting path through the arches of the building and got to the next intersection.   It wasn't as crowded.  I turned on the camera and set my focus for the middle of the street, sure I was going to get a great picture for my wife.
        As the crowd began to roar realizing Sean Connery was leading the procession, arms began to fly up in front of me as people waved at him, chanting the same mantra my wife had:  "Sean...over here...Sean!  Sean!"
        Then a herd of police and bodyguards swelled before my lens, pushing and prodding us back, blocking the clear view I had earlier.   I clicked the shutter over and over, and got only the face of a burly bodyguard with a cowboy hat on, whose shoulders looked like some wrestler from the WWF (World Wrestling Federation).
        "Go!  Go!"
        My wife's Voice pierced through the cacophony.  I shot ahead, dodging and weaving between the masses, eyes flicking ahead  to warn me of little children, dogs, older people whom I might smash or crush were I to slip or move in the wrong direction.
        Each time I stopped to take a picture, something interfered with the scope of my lens's vision.   
       "Did you get that?  That was a good one!"
       "No," I grumbled, my hackles rising, my ego dangling a thin thread of  getting the "perfect picture" for my wife--my worth as a "camera warrior" contingent on getting just the right shot.
        We ran ahead of the pack of people jamming the parade route, up 6th Avenue and across 59th Street toward Columbus Circle.  I knew Central Park and the route the parade was taking well.   We crossed 59th into the 7th Ave park entrance.   There was hardly anyone there.
       I readied my camera.   As Sean approached, the bodyguards appeared like bulls challenging my right to be in the ring, circling him in defiance of my mission to capture him in the "perfect pose."  I was a Terrorist threat to them.   My movements toward the icon resulted in their movement toward me.  They didn't know who this hulking guy was trying to take the movie idol's picture block by block.   Then it struck me.  I was inviting Terrorism.   I wasn't using my head.
       I stripped off my leather jacket and sweat shirt and donned my Pipe and Drum T-shirt.   The symbol on the front and back clearly attested my affiliation with a police organization.   I felt like an infiltrator, a spy donning the clothes of a security guard to move unsuspected amongst the "brothers of the shield."
      Having more than my share of combat experience, and understanding the affiliation of warriors to one another, I strolled out into the street directly in front of Sean Connery, puffing my chest so the Pipes & Drums logo could be easily seen. The wall of body guards and police forming a wedge to protect him parted like the Red Sea did for Moses.
      No one said a word.
      It was as though I had switched from Clark Kent to Superman in a flash.
      I took one picture after another.  I yelled at my wife to walk in front of me so I could get a shot of Sean Connery and her in the same frame.    None of the guards shouted to get out of the way.  I snapped the picture--the perfect picture.
      Vigilance won!
      But it took the length of the parade route, nearly 100 blocks, before we finally got the treasured pictures.
      At the end of the road I was a Knight In Shining Armor.
      I was my wife's hero!
      I had "shot" Sean Connery!
      What is important in this story is staring into the face of Terrorism.   I knew I would be a "failure" if I didn't get the picture.   I knew I must drive every ounce of energy and imagination I had to the surface to find a way to get the "great picture," or, for that matter, "any picture."
        Fear and Intimidation followed me along the route.  My camera's batteries failed me.  The hands and arms of fans blocked me.  And the police and bodyguards kept me at bay so I couldn't get the "perfect shot."
        But, Vigilance wouldn't die an easy death.  I could have become Complacent and given up on the "perfect shot."  After all, I was running madly down crowded streets, endangering any object or person who might have gotten in my way.    I could have quit and no one would have chided me because I did try hard before I quit.   But I couldn't quit.
       Courage and Conviction drove me to Action.  I was happy I didn't bump anyone, or stumble over anyone's feet.  I was elated I didn't crash into a baby stroller, or mash someone's precious pet.
        Up against the wall, I didn't fold.  I used my surreptitious brain and donned the symbol of Vigilance--my Pipe and Drum shirt.  I boldly went where few others dared to go--face to face with the body guards and police.  And, I got the picture.
        Vigilance isn't an easy job.  It wasn't for me yesterday.   But last night when we cranked up the computer and clicked on the picture files--there it was--the perfect picture of Sean Connery and my wife.
        For her, I had performed as a Sentinel of Vigilance!   For myself, I faced Terrorism and won.  It was a small battle, one that many might not think worthy of reporting, but throughout the whole event, all I could think of was the words--Semper Vigilantes--Always Vigilant.  Even when chasing Sean Connery!

       Semper Vigilantes.

 Go To April 6--The 0.1% Vigilance Factor

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design