Sunday -- April
7, 2002—Ground Zero
Chasing Sean Connery...
"Vigilance & The Kilt"
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.
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.
My wife's Voice shrilled
over the others. She had de-evolved from a mature middle aged
woman into a screaming teeny bopper.
For a moment I thought
she might flash her one breast, or the beautiful butterfly tattoos
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
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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!
To April 6--The 0.1% Vigilance Factor