Zero Plus 356
September 11 Baby Arrives --
A Year After The Death Of WTC Victim
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, September 2--When Sue Mladenik talks about "having her daughter"
a year after her husband's death--he was aboard the first hijacked plane that
crashed into the World Trade Center--eyes
widen, questions rattle, and tongues have to be wrestled back so they
don't gush out: "But how could that be?"
This one, however, was planned.
Prior to his death, Jeff and Sue Mladenik made a
tough but powerful decision--to adopt a Chinese orphan girl from the
Linchuan Social Welfare Institute. They already had a family of
four, ages 4, 17, 19 and 22. Hannah, the name chosen for their
new Chinese adopted daughter, would make a family of five, adding another
girl to the two sisters and brothers comprising the Mladenik family.
(Note: US citizens adopt
approximately 4,000 Chinese children per year. Unofficial estimates
by the Shared Blessings Foundation, which promotes adopting Chinese
orphans, put the number of abandoned babies in China at 500,000-800,000
per year. Most of these are girls.)
All the adoption papers were filed and they were
waiting for final approval when Jeff climbed aboard his fatal flight, one
that would end in tragedy and sorrow that Sue Mladenik fights every day.
"It's hard to watch your husband being blown to
bits over and over," she commented regarding the replaying of videos
showing the first plane smashing into the World Trade Center.
To ward off unwanted visitors coming to her home
to "grieve with her," she installed a six-foot fence around her Hinsdale,
Ill. home. "I don't need to cry with strangers," she said.
Jeff called Sue each night when he was traveling,
and they talked at length about the kids and family and their days.
They were heavily involved in their local church, and the children were
the center of their lives, friends reported.
Sue still has nightmares about the loss of her
husband, and wears a silver bracelet with his name engraved on it and his
flight number. She has another one also, with the letters,
"WWJD" etched into the metal, standing for, "What Would Jeff Do?"
That's why she re-filed the papers for
Hannah's adoption after Jeff's death. "I knew he would want me to go
ahead with it," she said, even though her hands are full with four
children. Her oldest, Kelly, 22, moved back into the house
after the death of her father and is recovering from drug addiction.
Gracie, the four-year-old, Josh, 19, and Daniel, 17, all live with Sue.
Two weeks ago the family boarded a plane
and flew to Beijing. Last Sunday they held 1-year-old Hannah
for the first time.
Sue abhors the idea of the word
"anniversary" used to mark the one-year passed since the attack.
"Anniversaries are supposed to be happy," she said. "A
Her nerves frayed by constant media shows
recycling the events of Nine Eleven, she lashes out at those who say her
husband is "in a better place."
"There's no better place than being here
with us, his family," she retorts. She even sent a scathing letter
to a major network executive about "exploiting" the pain and suffering of
the families for ratings.
But she plans to attend the Ground Zero
ceremonies quickly approaching. She hopes to meet other families who
loved ones were aboard Jeff's plane that day, and to hear his name read.
She is sad, however, that little Hannah
will never get to know her adopted father. "She'll know what kind of
man he was," Sue stated. "She'll know he loved her, I'll make sure."
In my belief system, Hannah will have a
Father of Vigilance. Sue Mladenik will insure that happens.
In opposition to those who believe the
deaths of the "victims" of Nine Eleven result in graves and tombstones and
monuments and memories, I stand on the other side of the looking glass.
I see them alive and strong and viable beings who have shifted forms from
physical to spiritual bodies.
While each was different, unique in his or
her own way, from various ethnic, social, religious and economic
backgrounds, their spirits are one unified and solid mass of common
purpose. The best steel is forged from a variety of elements,
each giving the final product strength from the best of its parts,
combining with the best of other parts, until the resulting metal is
virtually indestructible, keen, worthy of timeless endurance.
The idea of burying the memories and entombing
them seems to me counterproductive to the purpose of their deaths.
In my eyes, they died to live, not to be buried and become fodder for
When I was at Ground Zero watching the
devastation and recording it on my laptop computer, I saw their spirits
rise from the ashes. I saw them combine in a whirlwind of unity,
forming one union out of many, e pluribus unum, out of many, one.
They became the Sentinels of Vigilance, a
combination of a man and woman, sword in one hand, a wreath of peace on
their heads, and a Shield of Vigilance held outward, eyes fixed on the
horizon, searching, standing guard against Terrorisms of all
kinds--physical and emotional.
On the Shield of Vigilance, in the center,
was embossed the letters "SV," superimposed on the other, representing the
Latin: "semper vigilantes," always vigilant. Around the shield
were three words, Courage, Conviction, Right Action--the elements of
Vigilance. Their duty is to remind us all that Fear must
be countered with Courage, and the shadows of Intimidation illuminated by
the light of Conviction, and the desire to remain inactive, Complacent,
must be shoved aside by Right Actions--all focused not on what is good for
us today, but always on what is good for our children, and their
children's children's children.
Jeff and Sue Mladenik knew what was good
for the children's children's children even before the events of Nine
Eleven. It was to have a loving home, full of Courage not
Fear, brimming with Conviction rather than Intimidation, and void of
Complacency because Right Action always dominated the issues of life.
Hannah Quing Yu
Upon Jeff's death, Sue Mladenik continued the
legacy of Vigilance. She didn't let the Fear of being a mother
of four stop her from adding a fifth to her household. She wasn't
Intimidated by the loss of her husband and feel Complacent that she was
unable to raise another child without him. Her Convictions and
Right Actions took charge, and drove her to climb aboard an airplane she
vowed she would never ride in again to complete the mission of adopting
As we stand on the edge of the September 11
"anniversary," we need to take stock of the word "anniversary."
At least, I do. While I oppose the word's connotations, I
respect the word's denotation.
Looking at "anniversary" from a positive
viewpoint, it means celebration.
Perhaps the "anniversary" of Nine Eleven is more
about "celebrating" the existence of the Sentinel's of Vigilance birth,
than about burying the memories of the body parts of those remains of the
physical elements of human life found in the rubble.
If September 11 marked the birth of the Era of
Vigilance, then indeed it is a time to celebrate the battle of Courage
over Fear, the end of Intimidation over Conviction, and a time to remind
us all those who died that day left us a message to be heard daily, that
we must not be Complacent about the battle with Terrorism, but rather take
Right Actions to the benefit of the children's children's children.
Under such a definition,
I believe the word "anniversary" is appropriate.
But as an epithet to the deaths of those who died, as a header
on a tombstone of lives lost rather than lives born, I oppose
Sue Mladenik and her family,
I believe, are coming to celebrate the "anniversary"
of her husband's birth as Sentinel of Vigilance--a memory which
can last far beyond the physical lives of all of us.
She has vowed to keep his memory alive in Hannah's mind, and
in her own and her current children's minds and hearts.
On her wrist is her reminder--WWJD?
The answer, I believe, is the
presence of little Hannah. He would do the Right
Action to protect the children's children's children from harm.
That's the job of all Sentinels of Vigilance.
I don't think Jeff Mladenik is
I believe he lives in Hannah,
Gracie, Josh, Kelly, and Daniel. And, most importantly,
he lives in the heart of Sue Mladenik, who knows that the right
thing to do is become a Parent of Vigilance for a little Chinese
girl who might otherwise have been lost in a sea of Complacency.
To Sep 2--There's A Rat In The Subway!
- 2004, VigilanceVoice.com, All rights reserved - a ((HYYPE))