The VigilanceVoice

Saturday-- May 4, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 235

The F-18 Mission Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 4--I have a new mission.   I received my orders last night.
         Michelle, a friend of both my daughters, is a peacenik.   The is anti-war and anti-violence.  But her brother isn't.   While cut from the same cloth, they both enjoy different viewpoints, attitudes.   Like my own children, they represent the maximum diversity of opinion offered by a free society.   Yet they are as close as it is possible for siblings to be.
         Michelle's brother is a F-18 pilot.   He flew on the first missions against the Terrorists in Afghanistan.   He's still there, providing close air support for U.S. ground troops.
         To get to his target zones, he has to fly 1,500 miles.   He has been under attack by ground forces trying to lock on him with radar to blow him out of the sky.
         In his heart and soul, as with so many young and courageous warriors, he is fighting for peace and freedom.   His missions are designed to protect the children, parents and grandparents of both America and the world from Terrorism's insidious reach.
         He's proud of what he does.   And Michelle, despite her anti-war and anti-violence viewpoints, is proud of him..  Just as my anti-war, anti-violence daughter is proud of her sister who is a federal agent and daily hunts down bad guys with her 9mm Glock strapped to her side to keep the streets safe from criminals who threaten the homeland security.
         My mission, which I accepted last night, is to take a United States Flag to the first firehouse that responded to the Nine Eleven attacks on the World Trade Center.  The firehouse is Engine Company 7, featured in the CBS documentary "9/11" filmed by Jules and Gideon Naudat.
         The flag was a passenger in the cramped cockpit of Michelle's brother's F-18 on his first mission to fight Terrorism.  It flew 1,500 miles with him to provide air support to Special Forces troops on the ground.
         He sent the flag to his sister and asked her if she could get a picture of the firemen with it who were the first to respond to the Terrorist attacks on September 11.   He wants her to let as many people know as possible that he and his buddies are fighting daily to protect them from Terrorism's harm.  
         His squadron had seen the "9/11" documentary about the daily lives of firemen.  It was shot over many months preceding the attack.  The filmmakers picked a rookie in training, Tony Benetatos, and followed him (see photo at right). They were filming at the station house the day the Terrorists attacked, and captured the first plane hitting the World Trade Center in their camera's lens.  It is now a historic piece of photographic history.
        Michelle's brother and his crew were inspired by the film.   They wanted all the firemen in New York City and around the world, as well as all the other hero's of that "day of infamy" to know they were risking their lives to support the safety of others--and to pay tribute to those fire, police and emergency workers who perished on the Second Tuesday of September.
        Michelle showed me the letter and the flag her brother had flown with to represent their Vigilance over Terrorism.  She asked me if I would go with her to the fire station and take pictures to be sent back to her brother's buddies so they might know their message of Vigilance had been transmitted.
       I heartily agreed.
      What inspired me the most about her attitude was that while she stands on the opposite pole of violence, her appreciation of those risking their lives to deal deathly blows to Terrorism was untarnished.    If there is a symbol of freedom of democracy, it is when two opposing moral and ethical viewpoints can coexist in the same space, each recognizing the right of the other to disagree and still live in harmony.
       This is in total contrast to the principles of Terrorism.   Under Terrorism, if one disagrees then one is shot, or tortured, or a suicide bomber walks into a room of those who hold opposite political, religious and moral views and is blown to bits in an attempt to claim victory through Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
       I was honored to be asked to participate in such a ceremony.
       We are planning to go down to the fire station, located closes to the former World Trade Center where we will shoot pictures to send to her brother.
       Democracy's highest honor is the allowance of diversity.   And for me, to be able to take such a picture for people on both sides of the moral and ethical coin, is like raising a flag of Vigilance over the world of Terrorism.   It tells me there is much hope for our Victory over Terrorism when young men such as Michelle's brother ask their counter parts to respect their diversity.
        I will report what happens in a future article.    But, there is one last thing I would like to share about he U.S. Flag, and its symbols of diversity.  
       In my search for pictures to support this story, I ran across the meaning of a folded U.S. Flag.   I had never seen nor heard why the flag was folded in thirteen different sections.  Below is the information I found for your review.
       As you read the reasons, think about the rights we have been blessed with by our original Parents of Vigilance, the shapers of our U.S. Constitution.   These men, who were highly influenced by the women in their lives, constructed a system of diversity in which all peoples could live in harmony despite their unique beliefs and outlooks.   As this country matured in its outlook and support of our powerful Constitution of Equality, we learned many lessons--some which were laced with the blood of heroes such as Michelle's brother and his buddies who willingly risk their lives every day to support our Constitutional right to live in peace and harmony.
        Dwell on the thirteen reasons listed below and see if you don't appreciate and respect just a little more the flag that flies over your head--for it is ultimately the greatest symbol of Vigilance in the world.
       And, remember that as Parents of Vigilance, your children may one day have the right to choose to either fight Terrorism, or pray for its elimination.  In either case, your children will be Soldiers of Violence.


Have you ever wondered why the flag of the United States of America is folded 13 times when it is lowered or when it is folded and handed to the widow at the burial of a veteran?

Here is the meaning of each of those folds and what it means to you.

(1) The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

(2) The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

(3)The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of all the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

(4) The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

(5) The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

(6) The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie.  It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

(7) The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

(8) The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.

(9) The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

(10) The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

(11) The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

(12) The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

(13) When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation's motto, "In God We Trust". After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

The next time you see a flag ceremony honoring someone that has served our country, either in the Armed Forces or in our civilian services such as the Police Force or Fire Department, keep in mind all the important reasons behind each and every movement. They have paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us by honoring our flag and our Country


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