May 13, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 244
Guns & Crosses Of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 13--I spent the day yesterday
with the daughters of Vigilance.
One carries a cross. The other a gun.
It was Mothers Day.
My wife, our two daughters, my son-in-law, and two grandchildren,
Sarah and Matt, walked in the drizzling rain down to SoHo where
we had brunch and strolled in and out of various stores, enjoying
each others' company.
I was struck by the diversity
of my two daughters.
Each is a Daughter of Vigilance.
Each has dedicated her life to protecting others at her own
risk, without being prompted or coerced into that role by parental
I was shocked when both
my daughters chose different paths than the ones I had supposed
for each. My wife joined the chorus of surprise, but not
as heartily as I for she nightly had read their favorite stories
to them - to the older one, the Psalms from the Good News and
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to the younger.
My older daughter, Sabra--a
Catholic with a Jewish first name--has tremendous art and writing
skills. I projected her to become a great art director
at some fabulous ad agency, or, a world-renowned illustrator
of fine art. When her pen touches paper beauty flows and
leaps from the page to grapple
with the imagination of the viewer, illuminating the mind with
her soul's magical message that breathes life into her art.
I enrolled her in the Loyola
School of Communication, and, no sooner had I stepped off the
college campus than she switched to the Philosophy department.
She had learned the lessons of decision-making well, that parents
weren't to decide the destiny of their children no matter how
hard they tried.
She ended up graduating Phi Beta Kappa
from UC Berkeley, a famous liberal college I call the bedrock
of "commie pinkoism." She was an activist
there for the poor and disenfranchised, giving speeches on the
steps of Sproul Hall where others before her rang their dissenting
bells of liberty for the oppressed.
Her passion for helping others led
her to Guatemala and El Salvador where she lived with villagers
and stood face-to-face with El Salvadorian armed soldiers, defending
the rights of the local peasants to reclaim their land stolen
from them by the government.
She returned to the United States and
took up her cause with the Catholic
Worker in New York City, living with the people of the street
and peacefully demonstrating for their rights. Then
she was married in the actual Catholic Worker soup kitchen,
not the Ritz Carlton of Laguna Niguel as I had planned, and
bore two children with her husband while finishing her Masters
in Religion at Fordham University and now is about to be graduated
from New York Union Theological Seminary with her Masters in
I sometimes think I made a mistake
in preaching--"your job isn't to learn, but to learn to
think!" Or, when I spouted my favorite quote
from Winston Churchill: "Stand for Something or Be
My wife and I shuddered thinking
about her vulnerability as a young, beautiful woman in El Salvador
and Guatemala. Later, we worried about her exposure to
disease working with the homeless--the dangers of contracting
tuberculosis--and the physical exposure of dealing daily with
people who survived on the perimeter of humanity, throttled
by drugs and diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis.
Her cross was
her protection; her faith her Shield of Vigilance.
She is eight months pregnant
with her third child. I watched her gracefully walk-waddle
down the street, her hand often resting on her belly, patting,
loving and communicating with the gestating child in her
womb, her two children, Matt almost six and Sarah almost four,
skipping at her sides, holding her hands, taking turns
riding on their daddy's shoulders, sharing the excitement of
old fossils and bones at the Evolution store, then scouring
children's books at the Scholastic store replete with giant
figures of the Clifford, the big red dog and murals of Captain
Underpants and Diaper Baby lining the walls.
I swelled with pride that she was
committed to a life of service, happy that she was in a position
to provide service to the world. She and her
husband teach teenage community children catechism.
Both are fluent in Spanish. She works at the local parish,
Nativity Church, organizing bible studies and counseling those
in need about the Catholic faith. Her husband manages
a home for the homeless, lovingly caring for street people who
otherwise would be lost souls wandering the streets.
Yes, it is a far cry from my
vision of her dressed in the most fashionable clothes, hair
glistening from expert coifs of a world class designer, rushing
from client to client with her portfolio under her arm, sketching
out the covers of great magazines and shocking the world with
the magic of her illustrations. Destiny, I thought.
The destiny of Vigilance.
Then there is our younger daughter.
She walked along with her sister and mother, her feet moving
like a cat stalking its prey, her body trim and lean.
Along her belt was strapped two cell phones and a beeper.
Whether she was carrying her 9mm Glock or not I did not know.
I stopped asking if she "carrying" a long time ago,
as she didn't like the idea of my inquisition as to whether
she was armed or not. It was "her business,"
she reminded me, "not mine."
I was sure she was going into
business or politics. She had that "level head,"
I thought. A conservative Republican in opposition to
her sister's Democratic liberalism, I was sure she would seek
the rich rewards of capitalism and power by becoming a great
business woman or politician, ruling as a queen over a land
of money and power.
She graduated from George Washington
University with a degree in International Affairs, speaks fluent
Japanese and worked in Japan for two years. She
had a taste for the fineries of life--the Ferragamo shoes, the
elegant handbags, her nails sparkling with French tips, her
hunger for elegant massages at exquisite spas. Yes, I
was led to believe in my "make-up-your-daughter's-future-planning,"
she will rise above the masses in total charge of the business
But then she informed me
a few years ago that she applied to become a federal law enforcement
agent. I was shocked. "But they don't
get paid that much," I asserted. "And you end
up working with the scum of the earth--the criminals, the worst
She just looked at me,
as though I were a Martian asking why she breathed oxygen.
A Junior Olympic volleyball silver medalist, I knew
she had all the earmarks of a great "soldier" but
I couldn't fathom her life chasing criminals. She was
picked to become a special agent for a major federal agency
(which I decline to promote here because of her request to remain
anonymous about it for her own safety and security).
Her job today is to hunt
down criminals in New York City, thwarting their attempts to
promote crime and to Terrorize society by their actions.
Her cell phones and beepers connect her twenty-four hours, seven
days a week with her headquarters, and she is never out of range
of being called to action because she works on "criminal
time" not her own.
She invades the worst of neighborhoods,
waiting for the "bad guys" to slip up, stalking them,
confronting them, arresting them, testifying against them.
Her days and nights are oftentimes spent in her car, watching
for the vermin of the streets to make their move.
Her guns are loaded. She procedurally is always wary that
the criminals have no morality about killing, and when facing
arrest, can turn into raging beasts intent on the death
of those who try to incarcerate them.
Both our daughters are beautiful
women. Their beauty is striking. One would not expect
them to do what they do. Neither do they brag nor lord
their roles in life over others. They are quiet Servants
of Vigilance, unassuming in their
performance of their goals in life, but deadly in the delivery
of their mission. They stand on the bedrock of what
Churchill said: "Stand for Something Or Be Nothing!"
I sponged up their essence yesterday
as I watched them walking down the street together--our Two
Daughters Of Vigilance.
While I sometimes wonder if I
have done the right thing with my life--a question that we all
ponder in ruminating moments of parenthood--yesterday provided
me a sense of fulfillment, a resolution to the question of my
own as well as my wife's obligations as Parents of Vigilance.
There, before us, strode
and waddled two exclamation points of parenthood--two young,
beautiful women willing to give their lives for the safety and
security of others.
What higher honor could
I be given by life than to see my children happily and freely
doing what they wanted to the benefit of the world?
None, I thought.
There was no higher honor.
But then I took a second
look at the scene.
Beside each of our daughters
walked a little one. Sarah held one daughter's hand who
carries the Cross Of Vigilance and Matt skipped beside the other
who carries the Guns Of Vigilance.
There were two grandchildren to help grow, I thought, and another
on the way who needed the wisdom of time and experience
The children represented a whole new Generation of Vigilance
waiting to find their paths, to seek their destiny..
Perhaps, I thought, the
work wasn't done. Perhaps the role of Grandparent of Vigilance
might be almost as important as that of Parent of Vigilance.
I smiled. The raindrops
washed against my face. I felt refreshed, proud, happy
TO: May 12--The
Killing Of Mothers Of Vigilance