19, 2002—Ground Zero Plus
From Victory To Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, July 19--Sixty-one years ago, on July
19, 1941, a chubby, jowl-faced man with a fat cigar stuck between his lips
lifted his right hand and split his index and middle finger into a sign
that helped inspire victory over the Nazi Terrorists.
The man's name is Winston Churchill.
The "V" sign he made has come to represent "Victory" for all who sought an
answer to the oppression of Terrorism in World War II.
I propose we turn Churchill's "V" for
Victory into "V" for Vigilance.
Winston Churchill knew how to move a
nation. His inspirational speeches rallied not only the small
nation of Britain to withstand the onslaught of German aggression, but it
also helped lure the United States into World War II, specifically due to
Churchill's famous speech, "Hands Across The Sea." That
speech, broadcast to the average American, called on the U.S. to help ward
off Terrorism. It worked.
So did his V-sign.
Churchill used the rallying emblem as a
symbol of resistance, a defiant gesture against the Nazis who had
swallowed Europe. Radio broadcasts beamed at the populace of
occupied Europe were issued by a mystery man who went by the name of
"Colonel V. Britton." The Voice urged people to chalk or paint
the letter V on walls of buildings, in the street and in public
conveyances. The BBC organized the "V committee" to set up plans "to
encourage, develop and coordinate British broadcasts to enemy occupied
countries about action against the Germans.
Ritchie, a BBC news editor, posed as "Colonel Britton"
The "V" Campaign was launched via a message
Winston Churchill wrote. It was read over the air by Colonel
"The V sign is the symbol
of the unconquerable will of the occupied territories and a portent of the
fate awaiting Nazi tyranny. So long as the peoples continue to
refuse all collaboration with the invader it is sure that his cause will
perish and that Europe will be liberated."
In France and Belgium, V stood
for "victoire." In the Netherlands, V translated to
"vreiheidt," or freedom.
To further frustrate the Nazis,
V was set into code through music. German-Austrian Beethoven's Fifth
Symphony begins with three notes, representing three dots and one
dash--dah dah dah dum--the Morse code for the letter V.
Whenever the 5th Symphony was played, the population knew it meant
Colonel Britton instructed listeners to
"tap it out whenever you can, so that your comrades of the army will hear
it and so the Germans hear it too. They have to pretend now that
they like it, but they don't."
Schoolteachers called pupils to order by
clapping their hands in a "V" rhythm. Trains tooted the "V".
People in occupied Europe began to tap it
out with pencils, beer glasses and their fingertips while sitting at
counters. It was the glue of Vigilance, a reminder that
Terrorism has a short life
In an attempt to counter the presence of the V
sign throughout Europe, the Nazi's claimed the idea of the V was theirs,
and that it signaled their victory over Europe. In an attempt
to mask the growing "nerve war," the Nazi's had newspapers ordered to
print a large red V on every page and the Postal Ministry to place a
red stamp on all envelopes which read: "Viktoria.
Germany is victorious on all fronts."
| To sell
war bonds - from POW in Stalag Luft I
But Abe Lincoln's famous saying held fast:
"You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the
people all of the time."
Victory didn't mean Complacency or Fear or Intimidation
by the Nazi occupation forces. Despite their attempts to hijack the
symbol, it became the unifying thread woven into the constitution of the
average person, calling on each individual to reach down and pull out his
or her Courage, Conviction and Right Action--the core elements of
Today, we face an occupation not unlike that of
World War II.
It is Terrorism.
We can't hear it goose stepping down our streets
at night, or see its Swastika flying atop flagpoles, or hear the retort of
its firing squads killing those who do not kowtow to the rules of
occupation. But it exists as real as though it were in physical
Its signposts are Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency. It oozes into one's pores, wiggling its way into
ones nervous system and wrapping itself around one's sense of insecurity,
Terrorism isn't just about having a gun pointed
to our head by Osama bin Laden or one of his troops. It's about a
way of thinking. Its about feeling "less than" rather "more than"
our deepest Fears, our most frightening Intimidations, our most
Terrorism gains power when it evokes such
thoughts as--"What can I do? I'm a nobody!"
Its shadow makes us cower in shells of
selfishness, more concerned about "what's in it for me," that in "what's
in it for all of us."
Societies under siege are divided and conquered
by their own Fears, their Intimidations, and, their Complacencies.
Churchill knew this all too well. That's why he launched and
promoted the V-sign.
By putting each person in charge of
Victory, he rallied the resistance against the Nazis in the minds of those
enslaved by its oppression. He gave people a way to express
their unity, rather than to be sucked deeper into the quagmire of
occupation where they accepted rather than refuted their Terrorists.
To defeat Terrorism in our world, we
need more than the idea of Victory to aid us. We need to
instill an ongoing sense of Vigilance, one that belongs to each and every
parent, grandparent, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin,
nephew, niece and loved one of the children, and their children's
While our attention is drawn to bombings and
shootings in Israel, and the trial of the Zacarias Moussaoui, the
34-year-old Muslim radical who is accused of being the "20th hijacker,
Terrorism strikes Stanton, California. A young girl,
5-year-old Samantha Runnion, is snatched from her front yard, kicking and
screaming, and then brutally raped and killed.
Our leading financial Twin Towers are crumbling
based on faulty accounting, and selfish disregard for the equity of our
nation and economic security our children. Our President's
niece is thrown in jail for violating her probation. And the
number one Emmy nominated show is Six Feet Under, a horrible drama about
the sickness of the living who act as though they were dead.
And then in India, the second largest
nation in the world, the newly elected president is a 70-year-old nuclear
scientist who helped design India's nuclear missile program, accelerating
the arms race.
No, Terrorism isn't going to end with Victory,
for it is implanted in the seeds of human character flaw.
There will always be the Hitler's, the Osama bin Laden's, the rapists,
murderer's, child molesters, greedy vultures on Wall Street, and two-faced
politicians more concerned about reelection than restoration of American
democracy and unity.
That is why we need to unify.
We, the Citizens of Vigilance, need first to
recognize the Terror Within. We need to come to grips with the
reality we are all infected with Fear, Intimidation and Complacency-it is
part of us. Until the day comes that we look in the mirror and
accept the Terrorism Within, we cannot hope to fight it without.
The reason the people in Europe chalked V-signs
on walls, sidewalks, trains, and tapped out Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
opening notes was because the Germans were standing guard over them,
holding them prisoner to their tyranny.
Terrorism Within is about us being
prisoners of our Fear, our Intimidation and our Complacency.
If we can't see ourselves as victims of our thinking, selfish in our
attitudes of "what's best for us" rather than "what's best for the
children's children's children," we can never raise our hands and present
a V-sign with any credibility.
But, if we can see Vigilance as a
means of freeing us from our Fears, freeing us from our Intimidations,
freeing us of the bondage of Complacency, then we can raise our hands and
give one another a V-sign--a symbol that we are Vigilant Within.
Churchill perceived the use of the V-sign a
"war of nerves." It took Courage, Conviction and Right Action
for one to give another the V-sign. It involved risk. It
meant one was willing to withstand whatever pain might be issued if one
was to stand up for what one believed in a world that had little hope,
little chance of fighting the power of the Nazis.
We have a war of nerves too.
Are we willing to admit we Terrorize ourselves? Are we willing to
admit we struggle to see ourselves as "important cogs in the wheel of
life," rather than mere grains of sand on a beach, struggling simply to
pay the rent, raise the kids, accrue enough money to retire.
The Pledge of Vigilance below is a
commitment to the V-sign--the Vigilance sign. When one takes
the Pledge, one agrees to start to learn to think in terms of the safety
and security of a child, not just oneself. The Pledge
asks each adopter to help the child fight his or her Fears, Intimidations
and Complacencies with Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.
It demands of us we question those virtues
in ourselves, and while we may find ourselves flawed in some or all of
them, that does not mean we cannot strengthen those flaws through
unification with other Citizens of Vigilance.
Back in 1941 during the occupation of Europe, the
citizens were fragmented as they are today. They were simply grains
of sand on a beach of Terrorism, wanting only to survive the war and then
get on with their lives.
But then they realized they could make a difference.
If they tapped out "dah dah dah dum," or chalked a V somewhere, or held up
the V sign to another, they were sewing the threads of unification,
bonding with others against a known oppressor.
The V-sign gave new hope, new strength to
the disenfranchised. It swept through the land and bolstered the
resolve of the most reluctant to get involved, that by merely spreading
one's fingers and making the V-sign he or she could rise about the
quagmire of Complacency and offer support to others in the battle against
Today, we have that same opportunity--to make the
V-sign for Vigilance. To vow to fight Terrorism Within so we can be
better prepared to fight it without.
Make the V-sign.
Be a Citizen of Vigilance!
Go To July 18--Bookstore Terrorism
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