The VigilanceVoice

Monday-- May 13, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 244

Guns & Crosses Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
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 influence.
       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 Divinity.
      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 Nothing!"
      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 of power.
       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 of people."
       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 and eager.

G0 TO:  May 12--The Killing Of Mothers Of Vigilance

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