The VigilanceVoice

Thursday-- June 6, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 267

D-Day, June 6, 1944
T-Day, September 11, 2001
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, June 6--Today, we celebrate one of the largest and most brutal battles in history--the Normandy invasion--D-Day, June 6, 1944!
        It was a powerful feat, involving 180,000 American, British and Canadian forces attacking German defenses entrenched above the cliff's of Normandy.
        Casualties were high.  Over 8,000 were killed or wounded.  The Allied High Command had expected 10,000 to die that day.  Miraculously,   less than 2,500 were killed and the remainder wounded. 
        The battle then, as it is today, was against Terrorism. Instead of Osama bin Laden, our enemies were Nazi Terrorists led by Adolph Hitler.  Like bin Laden, he sought to rule the world through Fear and Intimidation.   Normandy was a battle based on a race with time.  The Allies knew Hitler posed a heinous threat to everyone because he was working on the development of an atomic bomb.  He had already pioneered the use of rockets, or "buzz bombs," to deliver deadly explosive payloads on Britain.   At all expenses, his Terrorism had to be stopped.  The sacrifice of thousands of "Soldiers of Vigilance" was considered a small price to pay  to stop the threat Hitler posed against millions of innocent men, women and children should he continue his development of "weapons of destruction."
        Most of the "modern generation" will not remember D-Day as a battle against Terrorism.  I didn't.   D-Day was a part of history that belonged to my parents and grandparents.   I faintly even remember Korea.   But in hindsight on Nine Eleven, I see a powerful and important parallel between the invasion of Normandy and the Terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.  I see why both events should hold an equal place of honor in military as well as national history
         Fifty-seven years following Normandy, on September 11, 2001, 2,800 modern "Soldiers of Vigilance" sacrificed their lives in the first battle with Terrorism on its own soil.   Similar to its ancestor, D-Day, June 6, 1944, the events of September 11, 2001 should be recorded historically as T-Day--Terrorism Day.
(Note:  The following is a definition of D-Day as the military defines it-- "Every operation has its D-Day. This is the day an operation starts. For operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy Invasion, this was June 6th, 1944.  Instead of just saying, Day, the military repeats the first letter to emphasize that this is the day that the operation will start, not on any other day, but this day! The same counts for H-Hour--this is the exact time the operation will start. For the invasion in Normandy, H-Hour for Omaha Beach was 06.30h. In French, they say "le Jour-J" for D-Day, In Dutch they say "het Uur-U" for H-Hour, according to the same principle.)
T-Day" and "T-Hour" are my variations of D-Day and H-Hour.   September 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m. represents the day and hour the first Terrorist hijacked jet struck the north tower at the World Trade Center,.
On T-Day, unlike the Soldiers of Vigilance who stormed Normandy beaches five decades earlier, the people preparing to go to work in the Twin Towers had no idea that they would be instantly "conscripted" at 8:46 that morning from Citizens of Vigilance into Soldiers of Vigilance.   No one was planning on dying that morning in September, however, many were on D-Day.  Unlike the soldiers and sailors of Normandy, no one  woke up on the warm September morning of 200 saying prayers in preparation that he or she was going to face one of the most horrible events in modern American history.   The September Citizens of Vigilance didn't write last letters to loved ones in case they didn't survive, which is a common practice among warriors about to enter the Gates Of Battle Hell.  They didn't longingly look at pictures of wives and children, finances, grandchildren, lovers, attempting to lock in final memories of loved one's faces in case they were mortally wounded, hoping their last thoughts might be of their loved one's..  Some who went to work on Nine Eleven even bought green bananas the day before, never giving a second thought they wouldn't be here to enjoy them ripen.
       To some, the people who went to work at  the Twin Towers that day were simply "civilians."   They weren't under direct orders by the commander-in-chief to lay down their lives, or to bear arms against foreign or domestic enemies.  They were mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters and loved ones simply following a routine of one-day-after-another.   War was not on their agenda.  They were, as the press has so constantly attributed, "victims of a tragedy."   But they were far more than that.
       At T-Hour, 8:46a.m., September 11, 2001, they didn't become "victims."  They were transformed, conscripted into "Soldiers of Vigilance.".
      At the moment American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower, more than 40,000 civilians located in and around the Twin Towers were instantly conscripted from "Citizens of Vigilance" to "Soldiers of Vigilance."   As the fireball exploded, all United States non-combatant citizens were converted into combatants, charged with the duty and responsibility to fight and die for their country.   Terrorism's Act of War against them converted their status.  Their mission now was to battle the Terrorists threatening the security of  their children, their grandchildren, their loved ones, their relatives and the nation at large.  They became the core of war.
      No U.S. citizen at the epicenter of the Terrorist Invasion was exempt from this conscription.  Each person became a "Warrior of Vigilance" by Constitutional default rather than by personal choice.  Put another way, the hundreds of American citizens were automatically "drafted" into the service of their country. (Of the 2832 confirmed dead that day, many were from foreign countries.   Current reports include the dead and missing to account for 62 different countries--the highest counts with losses over 100 include:  Canada, 102; Germany, 704; India, 250; Japan, 102; Mexico 150-500; Colombia, 122; and the United Kingdom, 500.)
      Critics of this concept of "instant conscription"  need to look at history before discounting the 2823 killed that day as mere "victims" by an Act of War.   I maintain they weren't "victims," but instead brave, courageous "warriors."  Those who were U.S. citizens I maintain, were conscripted into the roles of "Soldiers of Vigilance" Therefore, they deserve the equal recognition as any warrior would in any battle, including and not limited to those brave warriors who died at Normandy.
   .   To make my point, let's look at the concept of "conscription" to see if it holds that "civilians" can "instantly" become "warriors" under the Constitution of the United States.  Let us answer this question:  "Is there an inherent obligation and duty of any civilian to automatically fall under military command and be guided by the rules of war when under attack by foreign enemies who threaten the security of the United States of America?"
      To begin, let's ask:   "Does a warrior have to chose to be a warrior, or can that choice be conscripted by government against his or her will?"  World War II history helps answer this question.
      Many believe that World War II was all about people running down to the recruiting office to sign up and fight a war.   This isn't true. Two-thirds of the men who fought in WW II  were "conscripted"--drafted.  The total draftees in WWII represented nearly 67% of the total Armed Forces.  A draftee is a civilian called upon by his or her government to serve whether the person wishes to or not.   To deny "conscription" is a violation of the law.
      Let's compare the "popular" WWII to the "unpopular" Vietnam War.  While draftees in WWII represented 67% of the 17 million members of the Armed Forces during the war years, in the Vietnam War--between Aug. 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975--8.7 million members served in the Armed Forces and only 1.7 million were drafted. Draftees for Vietnam represented only 19% of the total force.  There were three times more volunteers in the Vietnam War than in WW II..
       For accurate historical perspective, the total percentage of draftees who actually set foot in Vietnam was 25% of the total  in-country fighting forces.   In other words, one out of four Vietnam Vets were draftees--people who didn't choose to fight.  In World War II, two out of three didn't chose to fight. 
      Despite the lionization of World War II by the media, the troops who fought in it were average citizens not necessarily eager to risk their lives for their country.   Conversely, those who think the Vietnam War was fought by people who had to be kicked and dragged into battle are misinformed.   Three-fourths of the fighting forces in Vietnam volunteered, while less than a third did in World War II.  These facts illustrate that one does not have to "choose" to be a warrior.  The Act of War itself can convert one from a peaceful, non-combatant into a full-fledged warrior.
     One could argue that "conscription" forces those who don't volunteer to "fight against their will."   With no disrespect intended to those who were drafted into any war, it is valid to say a draftee doesn't chose to fight, but rather is chosen by the circumstances of war.  Were it not for the circumstances, they would never fight.
        This does not imply draftees have any less bravery or courage than volunteers under fire. Or, does it mean they deserve less honor.  It simply means the "choice of warriorship" was not theirs.  It was automatically applied because they were U.S. citizens, and part of their citizenship included an inherent duty to defend their country.
      I believe the same principle of the draft or "conscription" applies to the 2,823 people who died on September 11, 2001, as it applied to those draftees who died at Normandy.  At the precise moment the Terrorist plane hit the north tower a "Circumstance of War" was created.  It set into motion the concept of "conscription." 
      This "defacto conscription" from  the role of "civilian" to "soldier," gleaned its authority from the Oath of Citizenship.
       This "Oath" is similar in nature to the "Loyalty Oath" any inductee in the military or federal service or state service takes when becoming a member of government.   I took a version of  it when I was inducted into the Marine Corps.  My younger daughter took it when she became a federal law enforcement officer.
      Naturally born Americans assume this Oath of Citizenship as part of their franchise membership as a citizen.  It is born to them.   It  binds one to the duties of citizenship, which include being called upon by the nation to serve in defense of its security.   All naturalized citizens must take this Oath.   I have reprinted it for your review:

The Oath of Citizenship

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. In acknowledgement whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature.

       When American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center, the U.S. citizens who were part of the 40,000 civilians inside were center pieces in an Act of War.  Under the Oath of Citizenship, they were  "conscripted"  to defend their country.   They became "Instant Soldiers of Vigilance" at that precise moment.  Their authority and duty comes from the following lines of the Oath:
     ...that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law...
Pundits may argue the expression, "required by law" as meaning the combatants needed a letter from the President of the United States to authorize their being "drafted" into service.   However, exigent circumstances applied in this case.  At the moment of their "conscription" the President of the United States didn't know we were at war.  He was speaking in Sarasota, Florida.  However, the "law of the land" was in effect.   Under the Oath of Citizenship, all U.S. citizens who were part of that event had an obligation to become combatants.  They were duty-bound by the Constitution to "defend their nation," just as two-thirds of those who fought at Normandy were duty-bound to fight and die, if necessary,  for their country even though they did not "volunteer" to do so.  The "Oath Of Citizenship" was the authority for conscription.  Military law existed that day.  The Rules of War were in effect automatically.
        Below is a comparison chart of WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, D-Day and T-Day:  I present this chart as an example of sacrifice the "Soldiers of Vigilance" made on September 11, and, submit their deaths should rank among the major contributions of any war.  I especially compare Normandy to the WTC battle.


War or Battle







Total Served

4.7 mil

16.3 mil

5.7 mil

8.7 mil



Total Battle Deaths







% of Battle Deaths







% of casualties












*Represents one battle day.

Chart compiled by Cliff McKenzie, Ó2002,The VigilanceVoice—www//
Note:  Battle Deaths at WTC were 5.3 times worse than at Normandy in a single day of battle.  *Source for WTC casualty information:,_2001_Terrorist_Attack/Casualties 

        If there are some who still repute the parallel between D-Day and T-Day--that is, question the "conscription" of the "civilians" into military roles--let me share one more example to help turn the tide.
        It is United Airlines Flight 93.  Flight 93 was the last Terrorist-hijacked plane.  It took off late from Newark en route to San Francisco. It was hijacked and turned toward Washington, D.C., probably to strike the White House.  Three of the 37 passengers were able to use cellular phones.  They learned their hijackers were part of Terrorist plot to destroy American targets.
        Much has been written and speculated upon about what specifically happened aboard Flight 93.   We know a lot about one particular person, Todd Beamer.    In his conversation, he told the ground operator, Lisa Jefferson,  they (the passengers) were going to stop the Terrorists.   The last words heard from him was the battle cry:  "Are you ready guys?  Let's Roll!"
        It is assumed all the passengers charged the Terrorists in a full, frontal assault.   It worked.   Fight 93 crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:06 a.m.  There were no survivors.
        There can be little doubt the "Soldiers of Vigilance" of Flight 93 volunteered their lives to defend America's security.   They chose to strip off their "civilian" status and don the "warrior's uniform."    They converted their Fear, Intimidation and Complacency into Courage, Conviction and Right Action, just as the draftees and volunteers did at Normandy in 1944.   The price of their courageous actions was their lives.  The reward was the safety of many others' lives. 
        If their acts were not considered acts of "military combat bravery," then our vision of what military heroism is all about is distorted.  The passengers of Flight 93 weren't alone in such acts of heroism that day.
       In the bowels of the burning Twin Towers, hundreds of other "civilians" volunteered to become "Soldiers of Vigilance" just as Todd Beamer and others had aboard Flight 93.  We have heard some of the heroic stories of those "civilians" who helped others at the sacrifice of their own lives.  They are the comrades at arms who kept going back to get their fellow workers at their own personal risk.  They are the ones who stayed behind to insure all others got out safely and perished because of their leadership and Vigilance.  They are the ones who, rather than save themselves, took the time to help the weak and wounded.  Each of these "civilians"  volunteered their lives in defense of their country.  They were as brave as any commander leading his or troops into battle, or any corpsman or medic crawling through a hail of bullets to administer first aid to the suffering.
      What do we call them?   Are they simply "victims" of a tragedy?  Are they just "civilians" caught in war's crossfire?  Or, are they "Soldiers of Vigilance," carrying out their Constitutional duty under the law as any military person would in any war?  I prefer the former definition.   It is one of ultimate, justified honor.
      It almost seems we have made "Nine Eleven Heroism" the exclusive privy of the firemen, police and emergency services personnel.  Overlooked, in my opinion, are the countless acts of "military heroism" by those "conscripted civilians" who served in defense of their nation.  These men and women went above and beyond the call of duty to battle and fight Terrorism's Fear so that others could survive.  They don't deserve the mere label "victims." 
       The "Soldiers of Vigilance" on September 11 used raw courage to act.   Like so many warriors at Normandy, the majority had never seen combat.  They weren't trained to die as were the firemen, police emergency workers who daily went to work knowing that the bottom line of their work was putting their life at risk for others.
       The courage and heroism shown by the "Soldiers of Vigilance" that September day was not unlike that which the GI's exhibited at Normandy.  Anyone who has watched the opening of the movie, Saving Private Ryan, understands  the struggle passengers on Flight 93 must have felt as they stuffed their Fear, Intimidation and Complacency and replaced it with the Courage, Conviction and Right Actions necessary to charge their captives.  It seems similar to being pinned down on the Normandy beach and deciding to rush for the cliffs despite the murderous wall of fire waiting to cut them to pieces.
      These "Soldiers of Vigilance,"  and hundreds of others in the burning Twin Towers, were just as "military" as the conscripted warriors who gave their lives in battle with any enemy.  That's why I believe, and have since the beginning, that the Todd Beamers of Nine Eleven deserve to be treated with full military honors as were the heroes of other battles, other wars.  They are as deserving of the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart or any other medal of bravery as any "conscripted" soldier, marine, airman, sailor or coast guardsman currently serving in the Armed Forces, or those who served at the beaches of Normandy, or at  Korean War's Cho-san Reservoir, or Vietnam's Khe San.
     A legislated Act of War is not necessary to authorize recognizing "militant bravery."  At Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the heroism of those under attack was honored with many medals of bravery, yet Congress had not yet declared war when those acts were performed.   In Pearl Harbor's case, the Act of War itself--the attack by the Japanese--set into motion the "war clock."   It did the same on September 11.
     It seems a travesty to relegate the memories of the "Soldiers Of Vigilance" to mere "victims of a tragedy."   This demeans their death.   It subtracts from the bravery, courage and selflessness of their actions.   A "victim" is related to a crime.   War is not a crime--it is a state of conflict in which all who are subject to its ravages are casualties, not victims..     So, why do we keep referring to the "Soldiers of Vigilance" who died that day as "victims?"  Why do we relegate their bravery and courage to a second-class state?
     I believe it is easier for us to "write them off" than to hoist them into the pages of military history.   To treat them as "warriors" means we must supply their families and widows with all the benefits befitting a federal employee who dies for his or her country.  It becomes an administrative nightmare. It clogs up the "system."  It gives militaristic authority to civilians.  It weakens government's authority to chose who is and is not privy to its accolades. 
      These are feckless arguments.
      Men and women who fight any enemy, or fight to survive the impact of that enemy, are by the nature of the Act of War, combatants, draftees.   Had the World Trade Center been invaded by physical Terrorists, and each "civilian" given a gun, they would have been "conscripted" on the spot under any military leader.   The Terrorists' fire was the "physical enemy."  Its heat and deadly breath was as real as bullets, as threatening as machine guns, and as devastating as  land mines.  
     The nation benefits when we recognize the "civilians" of Nine Eleven as "Soldiers of Vigilance."
     Such a tribute to their brave actions and ultimate sacrifice reinforces the duty each citizen has to defend his or her country.   It promotes the fact none of us can become Complacent about Terrorism, for it implies we are all "Sentinels of Vigilance," that we are all responsible for the "defense of our nation" and that it is unfair of us to push that responsibility solely upon government's shoulders, or waste our energies trying to find fault with them when that same energy could be used mobilizing our skills as "Sentinels of the Homefront."
    That's why I believe the least honor that should awarded every U.S. citizen who was wounded or died in the September 11th attack is the Purple Heart. If our government chooses to recognize their bravery in an Act of War, most recipients will receive it posthumously.  Here are the criteria for that medal

Anyone injured or killed as a result of enemy action.
Anyone injured or killed as a result of friendly fire.
Anyone injured or killed in enemy captivity.

I also believe Congress should consider awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor (below right) to those whom, under the guidelines of the award, meet its criteria.  From my viewpoint, the primary candidates for that medal go to those 37 passengers aboard Flight 93.    I'm sure there are many other candidate for medals--Silver Stars, Bronze Stars--that should also be considered.  By opening the door to these awards, we reinforce and substantiate the heroism expressed that day by one American toward another.  We also remind our nation's citizens that Terrorism is the enemy of every community, that it can strike on anyone's doorstep, that it does not distinguish between an innocent child, a grandmother, the weak, the helpless.   And, that we as nation must form a Wall of Vigilance that starts at each citizen's doorstep to signal to the Terrorists that America cannot be infected with its Fear, Intimidation or Complacency.
     Our Nine-Eleven Soldiers of Vigilance died to remind us that the military alone, the government alone, the police and fire departments alone, the CIA and FBI alone, cannot stop the assaults on our country single-handedly.   They died so we might recognize, and, hopefully realize, the need to take Vigilant Action upon ourselves to protect our homes,  our thoughts, our families, our neighborhoods, our communities, our states and ultimately our nation from Terrorism's Internal as well as External threats.  
     Terrorism isn't about blowing up things.  Instead, it's about creating Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in people.  It's about driving a community, a state, a nation into a corner, causing it to become fearful of what "might happen next."
     It thrives on disorienting parents, making them look vulnerable to their children.  It feeds on confusion.  It provokes finger pointing.   The more disarray it creates, the more our vulnerability grows.
     That's why I believe each individual should take our Pledge of Vigilance, or one similar if ours doesn't fit a person's particular taste.   If we learned anything from our "Soldiers of Vigilance" who died for us on September 11, it is that we must fight Terrorism with our own bare hands.  We must be willing to rush the cockpit as Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers did.
      Each of us has been conscripted by the events of September 11th as "Soldiers of Vigilance," whether we like it or not.   Each of us needs now to take the Vow of Vigilance.  We need to learn how to fight Terrorism both from the external and internal threats it imposes upon us.  We must fight not just for ourselves, but for our children and their children and their children's children's physical and emotional safety and security.  Only when we recognize the Osama bin Ladens and the Hitlers of the world will never go away will we stop expecting "others" to do for us what we must do for ourselves.  And their greatest weapons are Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   These are the enemies we must fight hardest.
.   The Terrorists, like the EverReady rabbit, will keep coming and coming and coming..   They will visit us again and again and again unless we make a stand now.  The Soldiers of Vigilance who died on September left us a legacy--"Act!   Don't become Complacent again.  Don't Fear.  Don't become Intimidated. We died for you.   Act!"
      It is time we all sharpened our Sword of Vigilance.   We need two sharp edges--one to fight Terrorism without us--and the other to battle it within us.   To counter our Fear, Intimidation and Complacency we need to understand how to employ their counter-agents Courage, Conviction and Right Action.
       We can learn these skills by applying the Principles of Vigilance through the Pledge of Vigilance.   The Pledge is our Foundation of Vigilance.  It reminds us of our duty and obligation to fight Terrorism daily for the benefit of our children, our loved ones.  It tells us to drive out Fear, Intimidation and Complacency that finds a home in our thoughts, and the thoughts of our children, our neighborhood, our community, our nation.  It forces us to take  Right Action where Complacency finds a comfortable nest.
      If we don't prepare for Terrorism's next attack, we remain Complacent, inert, ineffective to our own defense against Terrorism.   Without preparation we are defenseless.  We grow vulnerable.  Our children are exposed, at risk to Terrorism's venom of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   Our families are put at the mercy of others, and we, who could have acted to defend ourselves, have no one to blame but ourselves.
      If we don't assume the Oath of Citizenship, if we don't become "Soldiers of Vigilance," if we don't take a "Vow of Vigilance," then all those who died at on September 11, 2001, or on June 6, 1944, died in vain.   If Freedom is worth fighting for, then Freedom from Terrorism has to be most important fight we ever wage.   But if we don't do anything, we will lose the battle before it begins.  We will awaken one morning to Fear, Intimidation and more Complacency.  
      Since Terrorism works at undermining our personal confidence in ourselves, our system and our authorities, we must counter its triad of Fear, Intimidation effectively or it will continue to attack at will.  Only by "offensive" rather than "defensive" acts, can we signal the Osama bin Ladens of the world we cannot be rattled by their Swords of Terrorism.   
     Instead, we must hold up our Shields of Vigilance as the Roman armies did, and let the sunlight reflect off them with such blinding light that it sends our enemies scurrying in fear of our legions.  That will happen as each of the 100 million households in America make the decision to stand up to Terrorism by taking the Pledge of Vigilance.
      We can do it.
      We can "volunteer" to become Sentinels of Vigilance rather than wait for the next attack to be "conscripted" into that role. We can use the Shield of Vigilance with its Courage, Conviction and Right Action to stave off any and all Terrorist assaults of either a physical or emotional nature.   The Todd Beamers and others like him did--and we can too.
      Today, when you salute D-Day, also take a moment to also salute T-Day.   Both days are historic reminders that Terrorism will never die until  we give birth to Vigilance and let it mature within the sinew of our society..  When we "volunteer" to become Soldiers of Vigilance, Terrorism will shrink away.  Only when we show we aren't afraid of Terrorism will it turn its back on us and seek easier prey.
       And we start now by taking the Pledge of Vigilance. 
       Do it today, if not for yourself, then do it for your children, and their children's children's children.  And, of course, for the Sentinels of Vigilance who remain at Normandy beach, reminding us they defeated Terrorism one day with Courage.