Zero Plus 371
Burying The Placenta Of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, September 18--Protecting a child from Terrorism takes many
forms. One of those includes the burial of our
Angus was conceived in the fallout of
September 11. He is a special child, as thousands others are
who were born as a sign of Vigilance following the horror and destruction
of Nine Eleven.
His parents kept his placenta, the
"jacket" in which he grew in his mother's womb for nine months, commonly
called the "afterbirth." They decided to bury it in a private
family ceremony, attended only by themselves and their three children,
Matt, 6, Sarah, 4, and baby Angus who carries with him the Legacy of
Vigilance as a Nine Eleven Baby.
They conducted the ritual in their
backyard, in a beautiful grotto garden rich with flowers and fruit trees,
verdant and peaceful in a city known for its concrete landscape.
For months following the
birth, they kept the placenta frozen, waiting for the right time to place
it in the earth as a symbol of hope and health not only for their family,
but for the world. Symbolically, they were planting the "seeds of
life" back into Mother Earth's womb, for in ancient folklore it is
believed that one of the dead is reborn when a placenta is buried,
releasing its spirit to rise up from the grave of the "otherworld."
Cultures throughout the world revere the placenta as a symbol
of life. Navajo Indians bury their child's placenta in the
sacred Four Corners of the tribe's reservation as a binder to ancestral
land and people.
In New Zealand, Maoris give back the
placenta to Mother Earth to insure health and happiness of the child.
In their language, the word for placenta and land are the shame--"whemia."
In the Hmong culture of Southeast Asia the word for
placenta comes from "jacket." The belief is that after death, the
soul must retrace the journeys taken in life until it reaches the burial
place of it placenta jacket.
In Bolivia, the Aymara and Quecha
people believe the placenta has its own spirit. It is to be washed
and buried by the husband in a secret and shady place to avoid the mother
or baby from becoming sick or ill.
Some cultures recommend eating the placenta as it
is rich in nutrients and fable has it that it will eliminate sterility in
When Angus was born,
we all stood around the placenta and offered our prayers to the child's
health. Our daughter gave birth in a birthing center, and was
able to take the placenta home. Had she given birth in a hospital,
that would not be possible.
I had witnessed her birth, and that
of her younger sister. And, prior to that, I had helped
deliver two babies in Vietnam, in the midst of a war-torn country where
the women in the village lay back on straw beds, ball a fist of their long
black hair in their hand, bite down on it and push until the child enters
The bringing of life unto this earth is a beautiful sight, even
if the world around the birth is full of all the worst of times--such a
war or the threat of it. A birth gives life added dimension,
and seems to fly in the face of all the madness of people seeking to kill
one another, for war is the ultimate disrespect for life, the sanction for
Privately, I had wanted Angus' placenta to be buried at
Ground Zero. I thought burying it at the epicenter of the
destruction of September 11, 2001, would refresh the soil there, saturated
with the blood of thousands who died when the Twin Towers collapsed.
But the burial wasn't my choice.
After reading about the history of burying
a placenta, I realized it should be buried near the home of the family,
and near a tree.
Such a tree if often called a "tree of life," and it
represents the growth of human kind. There are no trees at
Ground Zero, just a huge pit, a giant grave that my wife and I visited on
the anniversary of Nine Eleven.
Then I began to think about Ground Zero.
Ground Zero wasn't limited to the immediate
area around the World Trade Center. It was wherever someone
stood that day and felt the sinking feeling of insecurity, and the rush of
Fear, Intimidation and the powerlessness of Complacency that one was
unable to do anything but pray.
I often think because I was right
there as the buildings fell, that I have some privy on the event.
Buy in reflection, I realize that people thousands of miles away watching
the event unfold on television screens felt the same Ground Zero I
did--felt the same sad emptiness at the wanton destruction of life, and,
the unbridled fear that more was to come.
Our daughter and son-in-law, parents of two
children, were sickened by the event. She cried
uncontrollably, wondering what to do to protect her children, torn by the
threat of harm that might be in offing for her family. I
remember comforting her near Key Food, a local grocery store in the East
Village as we walked up the street.
Her Ground Zero was the fear of her
children's safety, as it was for so many thousands of parents across the
country who had no idea what was coming next.
I've often wondered if her pregnancy wasn't her
way of standing up to the Terrorists--her way of showing defiance in the
face of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency. Certainly, it
takes Courage, Conviction and Right Actions to bring a child into a world
full of Ground Zeros.
Her family's choice
of burying the placenta in her beautiful backyard was far greater than my
idea of placing it in the earth at my Ground Zero. I forgot
that Ground Zero was, for many families, their homes. It
was where their family found its security and serenity, where children
felt safe with the presence of "mommy" and "daddy."
I also knew that the act of placing the placenta
in the ground, life begetting life, was a powerful symbol to the children.
It was a lesson in respect for life versus the lesson the Terrorists
attempted to teach--that one must "fear death."
Life goes on. Life survives death.
Life is part of the soil, from which springs the future. The soil is
not a grave, but instead a "jacket" for the "seeds of life."
I had been thinking of Ground Zero as a
grave. It was hard not to feel the shroud of death after
walking around the massive 16-acre pit, over sixty feet deep on September
11, 2002, hearing the sobs and quiet whimpers of the tattered souls who
lost so many loved ones that day. The feeling was accentuated
by the somber recitation of names of those who were lost that day being
spoken over the loudspeaker, accompanied by a cello morbidly played the
solemn soulful notes that made one's skin itch to leave the site.
Add to that the smell of raw, carved earth, mixed with motor oil from the
giant machinery waiting for us to leave so their engines could crank up
and rebuild that which had been lost and one could only think of death,
The ancient custom of burying the placenta in a
life-filled spot, in the shade of a tree, amidst the bursting garden of
life was a far better choice than in naked, scarred, bloodied soil, I
And it meant so much more to our daughter, her
husband and children who had huddled as a family, comforting one another
in the days following the attack, waiting for God knew what to happen
next, smelling the acrid odor of bodies burning in the raging fires that
incinerated any signs of those who fell victim that day to the Hand of
Hand Of Terrorism
Among all the pain of death,
life was conceived, not at Ground Zero, but at our daughter's home.
So the burial of the placenta in her backyard was the right place to
salute the Sentinels of Vigilance, to honor their presence and their power
to protect the families of the world, and all the children, and their
children's children's children.
While some might be quick to admonish the burial
of a placenta as some "non-civilized pagan rite," they need to take a
second look at where humanity is at today.
We haven't progressed much from the caves and
clubs and bear skins we once wore.
Our clubs have become more modernized, but our
intent is the same--to kill and maim and explode the shrapnel of Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency in one another.
Civilization is about the soul, not the
technology. When parents honor the placenta, they honor life.
They bury the Fear, the Intimidation and the Complacency of the barbaric
way of human thinking, and symbolize to their children that the placenta
means life is more important than death. They teach their children
that from the "jacket of life" sprouts Vigilance--Courage, Conviction and
That is civilized.
Burying Terrorism and planting
Vigilance--is civilization at its best. It is the planting
of Courage where Fear once took root, it is seeding Conviction
where Intimidation tried to choke its victim, and it is enriching
the soil with Right Actions where Complacency once tried to
poison the earth.
Yes, Ground Zero is alive
Go To September
17--Kidnappers Of Terror
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