Article Overview:    The ashes of Nine Eleven have been swept away by the tides of time.   The once ashen playground at Rockefeller Park hugging the Hudson River that sat like a ghost of horror 1008 days ago now churns with laughter and joy from children innocent from the Beast of Terror who stalks them unknowingly, even as they play.   Find out how we can all protect the children from the Beast turning their playgrounds to ash and blood.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 1008
Death's Ashes On Strollers & Baby Carriages Replaced With Sunlight & Laughter

Cliff McKenzie

 GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--June 16, 2004 -- It was a sickening scene, lifted from the pages of a "B" movie that few in the audience could ever imagine happening to them or their loved ones.   But it did, just 1008 days ago.    

Confusion reigned 1008 days ago

       One moment a beautiful playground is filled with laughing, jovial children, swinging, playing on Jungle Gyms, frolicking in water spouts shaped like a hippopotamus and an elephant, some digging in the sand, others chasing brothers, sisters, friends as children do when they are set free to expend their life's energy upon the world.
        The children and their parents, nannies, guardians who are out in the bright Tuesday sunlight of September 11 are not aware that above them are two planes filled with Terrorists who want to show the world the children of America, especially those who live in the exclusive, cloistered womb of Battery Park City, New York, New York, are within a fang's reach of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the great tools of Terrorism.
        Then it happens.   A silver arrow filled with fuel smashes into the Twin Towers, followed by another, igniting and trapping mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and loved ones of the children playing.
         Confusion reigns.   Mothers and guardians clutch the children, fearful of going into the buildings where yet more disaster might strike, opting to be in the playground area near the Hudson River where escape into the water might be the only salvation.
         A great heave of the earth buckles the legs of men and women holding their children as the great icons of American and world financial security smashes to the ground.   From the bowels of the earth it seems, a great nuclear-like dust cloud explodes, smashing through the clear bright summer air, choking off the sunlight, making the children gag and cry as its chalk and molecules of the dead shove their way down into the precious, nubile lungs of children who only know fear's most primal response--to cry and hug a loved one for comfort.
        The blackness drowns out the innocence of the children.    The cherub cheeks and bright inquisitive eyes of the youngsters turn death-gray, colorless zombie-like creatures lost in the dank fog of Terror's shroud.
        The parents and guardians stumble, grasping their children and wards as animals in a jungle avoiding a fire, instincts driving them to find breathable air, covering the children with their mature bodies and hoping that any shrapnel will pierce them and spare the child.

I hadn't visited the park since Nine Eleven

       It was like that at the Rockefeller Park Playground just 1008 days ago.
        I remembered the horror of it yesterday when my wife and I, and our older daughter, took our three grandchildren down to the playground from the East Village.
       I hadn't revisited the park since Nine Eleven.   My last memory of it was the scattered empty strollers covered with death's dust, empty graves of a once joyous haven for children, turned into a instant memorial to the loss of innocence not just of the children's safety, but the loss of innocence to Americans who thought they were safe from the Beast of Terror's third-world grasp.
       Part of me wanted to cry.
       I was saddened that we are just as vulnerable today as we were 1008 days ago.   Despite all the efforts in Iraq to quash Terrorism, there is a great folly in thinking that Terrorism lives in any one location, in any one state or nation.
       Terrorism is a virus.
       It exists in humans just as Vigilance does, doing pushups in us all waiting for a crack in our Walls of Vigilance to escape and rage with holocaustic vengeance upon the innocent, the weak, the helpless, for no other reason than to exercise the power of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency upon its victims.
         I saw Terrorists at the Rockefeller Playground the other day.   They revealed themselves through their children.    There were some mean children there, teasing and taunting and trying to dominate the weak and helpless.    And the parents did nothing.   The children who were acting out were learning the power of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  They were being unleashed to expand their power over others to serve selfish ends.
        On the other side of the coin, there were the Vigilant parents, unafraid to reprimand the potential Terrorist child, and not bashful about commenting that fact to the parents or guardians.    They were teaching their children about Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that benefit the Children's Children's Children.
        There were equal poles of Terrorism and Vigilance playing out themselves, and in the middle, a long measure of degrees of Complacency, from least to most, people minding their own business, or ignoring confrontations.
         It was a reminder to me that until each parent and guardian assumes their role as a Parent of Vigilance, Terrorism will continue to grow within us all, in all kinds of shapes and forms.
         I thought about the father or mother who rushed off to work the morning of September 11, 2001 and didn't bother to hug their child and whisper:  "I love you," before the clang of the opening bell sounded and the mad dash to acquire "things" consumed the duty of parenthood, the duty of expressing deep emotional love to a child so that the Beast of Terror can't worm its way into the child's thinking and make the child think that he or she isn't loved enough, isn't good enough, isn't important enough.
          Terrorism is not the Osama bin Ladens or the Saddam Husseins.  It never has been.  It is their parents, the ones who either taught or allowed their children to believe that the brutality of others was somehow a sanctionable act, and that the use of power at other's expense was a righteous act.
          These parents didn't teach their children how to counter Fear with Courage, and Intimidation with Conviction, or Complacency with Right Actions for the Children's Children's Children, for had they done so, when the Beast of Terror called, the Sentinel of Vigilance would have answered.    The answer would have been, "If it doesn't serve the Children's Children's Children of all time, then it isn't right."       

Flying airplanes into World Trade Centers doesn't serve the Children's Children's Children

         Flying airplanes into World Trade Centers doesn't serve the Children's Children's Children.
         Some would say that war itself doesn't serve the Children's Children's Children, except when such a war is taken on by all--a unified effort to starve the Beast of Terror of his most critical staples--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
         At Rockefeller Park the other day, I looked at the sea of cheerful, happy faces of the children.    I glanced over to Ground Zero.  I thought of the Sentinels of Vigilance, the spirits of all those who died that day and hover about the gaping hole in the ground, reminding us all to be "semper vigilante," always vigilant.
         I thought of the ash covering the strollers.  I thought of the empty graveyard of Rockefeller park just 1008 days ago, and how life's evolution had marched on, virtually erasing the signs of the past.
        I looked at our youngest grandson, Angus, conceived on Nine Eleven, and approaching his second birthday.   He was laughing and running and his eyes were glinting with joy.
        I hoped that joy would stay.  

      But deep down, I knew it would remain only when we, the parents, citizens and loved ones of Vigilance assure the Children's Children's Children we will fight the Beast of Terror daily so it doesn't sneak up again, as it did on Nine Eleven.
       I knew that would happen only when we all started to take and live the Pledge of Vigilance, or any Pledge of Vigilance that seeks the best for the Children's Children's Children.
      Only then will the playgrounds be free of death's ashes.


June 10--My Day With Ronald Reagan

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