The Muscle of Vigilance? What is it? For many during
the Great Blackout of 2003 it was the ability of people to rely on
themselves and their community rather than police, firemen and
politicians. It was Community Rule, banding around the
children. It was Vigilance at its best.
17, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 704
The Muscle of Vigilance Flexes
During Blackout In NYC
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Aug. 17, 2003-- If
Vigilance is a muscle, it flexed its strength over its protagonist,
Terrorism, and pressed more than anyone could imagine over its head
during the recent New York City Blackout on August 15, 2003.
flexing strength over Terrorism
and Complacency, the Triad of Terrorism, scattered in the darkness
when 8 million citizens of New York City sewed their Vigilant sinew
into one muscle to defeat the Beast of Terror's shadow seeking to
inject panic in a city considered as the major target of all
Terrorists trying to make their mark.
The power failure that strangled
electricity to death from as far as Ottawa, Canada through and
including the major cities of Cleveland, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan
and New York's Big Apple, tested the Vigilance Will of more than 30
million Americans throughout the Northeastern section of North
I witnessed what I would call a Common
Pledge of Vigilance against The Beast of Terror's Wrath.
Millions of people surrounded the children
and protected them with strength and purpose when the lights were
Perhaps no single event is more frightening
to a child than darkness, for in the dark lurks the bogeymen of the
mind--those creatures that haunted us all when we were growing up, the
"shadows that went bump in the night," the "creatures" that lived
under the bed and in the dark corners of the closet.
But Vigilant arms swaddled the children.
Parents and Loved Ones of Vigilance swept up the
children and presented themselves as Soldiers of Vigilance, banding
together despite race, color, creed, political or economic
Deputy Commissioner for the city's Dept. of the Aging, with senior
Winstead carried a pregnant woman 24 floors down to the street and
then walked with her for the next five hours to her home in
command posts at intersections and instinctively directed traffic.
Shopkeepers handed out water bottles and ice cream. A
midtown couple shared their hotel room with a family from Connecticut
with three young children. More than 30,000 senior citizens
across the five-boroughs got a meal due to Vigilant Department for the
Aging workers. Trainloads of subway riders were rescued out of
the underground tunnels by citizens learning of their plight. A
man on the E train had no flashlight to lead people to an escape hatch
so he used his guitar to quell hysteria. Both men and women came
to the aid of others, illustrating to the children that everyone has a
role in helping out when the threat of Terror looms.
The EGBOK Rule was put into
Terrorism's greatest weapons--Fear, Intimidation
and Complacency--were replaced by the Principles of
Vigilance--Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that benefit future
To overpower Fear it only takes One Percent
more Courage, and to counterbalance Intimidation, Conviction needs
only One Percent more energy to stand tall over Intimidation.
And, finally, Complacency is swept into the gutter by Right Actions
that requires a simple effort of conjuring One Percent more of it than
the urge to think it is someone else's job to protect the children
In the East Village where I live there are
a number of families, mostly Dominican and Puerto Rican.
On the street where my daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren
reside, it is filled with children ages ranging from baby carriages
into the teens.
practiced EGBOK - Everything's-gonna- be-okay.
ordeal of being stripped of all modern conveniences, especially those
of light, the street became alive with Parents and Sentinels of
Vigilance. There was laughter and a sense of filial relationship
between all, sutured I am convinced by the common thread of children.
The community bonding seemed to
culminate when someone uncapped a fire hydrant and hundreds from the
block gathered to run in and out of the water shooting out in a fierce
spray directed by a local community member who used a tin can with
holes in both ends to channel the gushing liquid into a nozzle that
spewed the liquid three stories into the air.
I grabbed my grandson and we rushed into
the spray, blending into the quiltwork of community members cheering
and laughing as the street's differences were washed away and the
universality of people standing together as one rose above any
Terrorism loves to divide and conquer.
It hungers to cripple people by pitting one
against another, turning the idea of community into anarchy where
people loot and Terrorize their neighborhoods like packs of wild
Little of that happened during the Great
Blackout of 2003.
Part of that Vigilance, I believe, is the
result of September 11, 2001 when Terrorism sought to weaken
American's resolve to work as one Vigilant body. The goal
of Terrorism to inject Fear, Intimidation and Complacency failed
during this Blackout, unlike the 'milder' blackout of 1977 when
looting was rampant, as it failed during Nine Eleven.
What the Nine Eleven attack and the Great
Blackout verified was the resolve of the Citizens of Vigilance to
protect their children and their community from the Beast's madness.
bonding culminated through a turned-on fire hydrant
was a resolve as thick as steel cast over the Big Apple, one of
defiance against panic and fear. People walked taller,
threw back their shoulders, and sent out the signal to the world
around them they were not afraid, no matter how much Jell-O might have
been jiggling on their insides, their outsides shined with strength
Personally, I've been in so
many brutal combat situations I often think I have calluses on my
soul. But I saw young men and women, parents, grandparents,
taking charge of their communities with as much determination as a
field general during a massive assault on the weakest part of his
Perhaps everyone was a combat veteran
of the Beast of Terror. Perhaps the attack of Nine Eleven
sparked in all that Complacency didn't have any room in their lives,
and they knew that each had to take charge in his or her own way, and
not wait for the world's "protectors" to rush to the rescue.
During the Great Blackout, everyone
knew no one could do anything. You couldn't even call the fire
department, for the phones didn't work. If it came down to
a fire, it would be a bucket brigade, neighbors helping neighbors.
If looting broke out, it would be the
community who would stop it, for there would be no way to contact the
police to rush to the scene.
Stripping the community of
"government services" and protective lifelines forced us all to turn
That was the sense of Vigilance that
loomed over the East Village, the last sector of the city to receive
From 4:09 p.m. on Thursday, August 15
until 9:30 p.m. on Friday, August 16, the East Village was dark.
When I was at
Ground Zero on Nine Eleven, I witnessed the Spirits of Vigilance
rising up from the ashes of the Twin Towers
But its soul was alive and bright.
was at Ground Zero during the attack on Nine Eleven, I saw what I
believe to be the Spirits of Vigilance rising up from the ashes of the
Twin Towers. I believe the nearly 3,000 souls lost that day
hover above Ground Zero, linked hand-in-hand, mothers, fathers,
children, grandchildren, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and
loved ones, all Sentinels of Vigilance there to remind us that we, the
people, must serve as our own protection against Terrorism.
Terrorism attacks us individually.
Unless we, the Citizens of Vigilance, brace ourselves against
Terrorism, we fail our duty as guardians of the children.
The Great Blackout reminded us we could not rely on the police or fire
department or political forces of government to protect us.
The reason, we couldn't reach them.
We were left to rely on our selves
and our neighbors.
And, it worked.
The Muscle of Vigilance flexed.
As it did, the Beast of Terror
We must not
turn off the Lights of Vigilance
While I lobby to
have everyone sign the Pledge of Vigilance and vow daily to fight
Terrorism, I was convinced that the Great Blackout of 2003 forced us
all to become Sentinels of Vigilance. We all signed the Pledge
of Vigilance by default during those long, testing hours.
I just hope that as the lights go on
we do not turn them off to Vigilance, and start relying on others to
do what only we can do for ourselves--protect ourselves and our
children from the darkness of the Beast.
16--A Test of Vigilance over Terrorism
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