The VigilanceVoice
Tuesday-- May 28, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 259

Courage, Kids, & The Statue Of Liberty
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

Editor's Note:  Today's story is an extension of yesterday's Memorial Day article.  It describes why parents took their children to the Statue of Liberty despite warnings of possible Terrorist attacks, and chose to walk into the "Jaws of Terrorism" rather than drown in the quagmire of Complacency..   For background, use this link to yesterday's story:  The Jaws Of Terrorism.

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 28--I was the last one to make the 9:30 sailing from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty.   Security was intense.  The line wasn't very long compared to pre-Nine Eleven days.   Since the Terrorist attacks, the daily traffic on the Circle Line Ferries has dropped from 18,000-25,000 a day, to less than 7,000--more than a 60% loss.
         An older African-American played man the National Anthem on his violin,  in tune to orchestra music blaring from Fort Clinton where Old Glory was being hoisted up the flagpole. Fort Clinton is a national landmark located in Battery Park. It is adjacent to the dock where the Statue of Liberty Ferry embarks.
         Security was the strictest I have encountered since Nine Eleven.  Face recognition scanners took your picture and flashed it before authorities, searching for semblances to known Terrorists in their data base.  Before entering the metal detector, you were told to take off your watch, coat and belt, and have nothing in your pockets.
         The day before I had seen a news broadcast about underwater security based on information Terrorists were planning to slip ashore with SCUBA gear to avoid detection.  There was a congenial attitude among the crowd.  Everyone moved along, following orders.   I was the last to board the boat.
         Immediately, I surveyed the passengers, looking for the Stories of Vigilance.   The people ranged from very old to very young.  They were of various skin colors, spoke many  languages and many had children accompanying  them.  In fact, there were so many kids of all ages I didn't know where to begin asking:
         Why would a parent bring a child to a known Terrorist target?  
          I was sure I knew the answer, but wanted to hear from the parents and the children.   The following picture stories delineate some of the reasons they came, and what those who chose not to missed.
         Here is Jim O'Hare, his wife Martha, son Sean, 12; and daughters Denise 10 and Rachel 6. 


The O'Hare family gives the thumbs up.  They visited the Statue of Liberty because they wanted to show Terrorism they "weren't afraid."  Sean, 12, above, learned a lesson of Vigilance from his father, a Boston Marathon Runner.

        Jim ran the Boston Marathon last year.   Despite the warnings and threats, O'Hare said it was important to "show the kids we're not afraid of Terrorism."   "We're Americans," he boasted.  "We could have stayed home but that would have taught the kids to run and hide when the going gets tough."
         I asked Jim's wife, Martha, if any of the children were afraid.  "Sean said he was scared and didn't want to come," she replied, "but that was only because he didn't want to go on the boat."  
         Sean was standing in front of me grimacing at his mother's disclosure of "private, family information."  I asked Sean if he was really was scared.  "Naw,"  he replied, "I just didn't want to go on the boat."  
      The youngest of their clan, Rachel, grinned from ear-to-ear.  "I'm not afraid of any Terrorist," she boasted.  "I'm not afraid of anything!"
      Vigilance critics might be quick to condemn the O'Hare's for putting their children at risk.   They might say a preferable lesson would have been to put the family's physical safety first and to avoid any danger of harm--to "play it safe!"
        But Jim O'Hare feels the formation of Emotional Security is just as powerful, if not more so as Physical Security.   "Without risks," he said, "you can never get the full value out of life."
        Jim and I chatted about the lesson Sean and his daughters were learning.   We talked about how facing a Bully Terrorism threat could impact Sean and girls' characters in years to come.  Jim gave me a great answer.
       "When the kids are out on their own, working for a living,  and someone asks them to do something that isn't right or be fired, will they cower under the threat of losing their job or puff out their chest and tell whomever they're not going against their convictions?  I hope they learn character from this journey.   Life is about standing up for what you believe in."
      No one knows the impact facing Fear has on a child,  but everyone who has faced it and survived knows he or she has grown from it.  Unfortunately, there are many who chose Intimidation over Conviction.   We hope they will take the Vow of Vigilance, and fight the Terrorism of Intimidation with Conviction, as the O'Hares did yesterday.  
       We salute the O'Hares!  They are Parents Of Vigilance

Our Memorial Day Choir Of Vigilance!

Linda Brown, mother of one of the 101 band and choir students from Elkhorn High School in Nebraska, said 100% of the kids voted to come to New York City after Nine Eleven and enjoy life even in the shadow of Terrorism.  "Our kids lose when Terrorism wins," she said.  "Terrorism lost.  We came despite the threats."

Above Right--Nebraska High School Choir Signer sings in sign language as Elkhorn High School sings on Liberty Island

        In August, 2001, the Elkhorn Nebraska High School Band and Choir booked a trip to New York City.  Every four years the school makes a junket to some part of the country to enrich the students with America's might and history.   
       On September 11th, the students and parents watched the planes smash into the World Trade Center on television thousands of miles away.  They felt not only the pain of loss of American lives, but also their journey to New York City, planned four years ago, was in jeopardy.
   .   Over the ensuing months parents, teachers and students discussed the options--cancel or go!  Each parent and child was given a vote.  According to Linda Brown, mother of one of the choir members, it wasn't an easy decision.  Fear and Intimidation coursed through their discussions, but so did Courage and Conviction.   No pressure was applied to anyone wanting not to go.  
        Then the decision was made.  
        The kids unanimously agreed to not let Terrorism ruin their lives or Fear control their decision, or Intimidation drive them from their destiny. They voted to see the Statue of Liberty and other of the many rich historic sights in New York City.  
        They wanted to see where George Washington was inaugurated.  They wanted to pay their respects and show their support for the victims and families of Nine Eleven.  
       They wanted to celebrate and not condescend to America's history of personal freedom and choice, carved from the blood of those willing to sacrifice themselves for others. 
       So they came.  All of them. 
       Not without Fears or Doubts--they had those they said--but their Courage and Conviction was at least one percent greater and grander.  They put themselves on the Edge of Vigilance rather in the rut on Complacency.
       The VigilanceVoice salutes Elkhorn High School as our Memorial Day 2002 " Students Of Vigilance!"


Glen Barnett, 17-year-veteran of ferrying millions of people to the Statue of Liberty, gives a "thumbs up" for Vigilance.  He urges people to come to the Statue of Liberty, and not be frightened by Terrorism's threats.  He is showing me some of the pictures he took on September 11.   The Terrorist plane flew directly over his ferry docked at Battery Park.   He took some of the first pictures of the plane smashing through the Twin Towers.  On the right is  the second plane about to impact the south  tower.  Below are pictures of the aftermath and devastation caused by the attack.  But, claims Barnett, the greatest destruction is the creation of Fear and Intimidation in people.  "That's our real enemy," he said. "That's the one we have to fight the hardest."

          Glen Barnett started out working on tug boats two decades ago, and switched to ferry boats.  He's transported millions of passengers to the Statue of Liberty over the past nearly two decades.  The father of three--one of his sons works another ferry boat--was docked at the pier in Battery Park when the Terrorist plane smashed into the World Trade Center.   He and others aboard rushed to offer help and aid to the victims.
       I asked him what he thought about people avoiding the trip to the Statue of Liberty.   "People can't be afraid and should fight Terrorism," he said.  "My advice is simple:  Don't be intimidated!  Don't be afraid.  That's what they (Terrorists) want.  They want to scare us into Complacency.   They'll keep it up the more scared we get."  
       Barnett was discouraged about the public fear of coming to New York City, and especially to the Statue of Liberty.   "We average between 17,000 to 25,000 people a day from Battery Park and New Jersey," he said.  "We'll be lucky to do 7,000 today.  It's been that way ever since Nine Eleven."
       He said one tour company that booked 50,000 visitors a year hasn't sent a tour to Liberty Island since September 11.   "It's the kids who lose," he said.  "A child who looks up at that Statue Of Liberty and sees how powerful she is, never forgets America's roots.   I miss the kids.  I miss the look of awe in their eyes.   I miss them seeing America standing proud," he said.
       As he showed me the pictures he had taken at Ground Zero, I recalled my own experience that day.   He was in the thick of it, soot and ash covering him from head to foot, working with the firemen, police, helping people.   
       On my way to the Brooklyn Bridge to walk over its great span, I glanced back at the ferry's taking only the most brave, the most courageous to Liberty and Ellis Island.   Above, I thought I could hear the cheers of the Sentinels of Vigilance, urging those who came despite the fear of Terrorism to go tell everyone what they missed.
        But from Brooklyn, where the city allowed the cancellation of its celebration of their world famous bridge, I only heard snoring.
       We salute Glen Barnett--"Sailor Of Vigilance!"

Go To:  MAY 27 "Memorial Day-Into The Jaws Of Terrorism"

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