What Would Peter Zenger Do?


An Open Letter To The National Media


Cliff McKenzie

New York City Combat Correspondent
Former U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondent, Vietnam 1965-1966
Go To Print Media Benefits

GROUND ZERO--Manhattan, N.Y., Oct. 3, 2001--Two hundred and sixty seven years ago, on November 17, 1734, Peter Zenger was arrested and put in jail for eight months.  His crime:  standing “vigilant” to protect the freedoms of American children’s children’s children’s from Terrorism.  His Terrorist was government--censorship.
      Peter Zenger is America’s “Spartan of Journalistic Vigilance!”  While he was only the “printer” and not the “author” of the articles, his contribution is even more important.   He essentially “set the policy,” as publishers today, and their Boards Of Directors, do.   It was he, “the printer” at which the stones were cast.  He was the backbone of the Fourth Estate.
       I call upon him today to help me convince you, the media, solemn members of the Fourth Estate, founded by Zenger, should adopt “Semper Vigilantes” as the theme and logo to battle Complacency, the pig trough of Terrorisms’ hunger.
       I hold up Peter Zenger as my example of  vigilance, as I am inclined to be a meager Voice among giants, and must therefore resort to history to assure my credibility as a spokesperson for the Fourth Estate and its enduring principles.
       On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m., the responsibility of the free press in America shifted from merely being a news reporting institution, to one duty-bound to fight Terrorism.  Those of you who think that such protection is the government’s job, listen closely to thunder of history.  Those of you who think such a stand violates the principle of “bi-patisan journalism,” also put your ear to history’s wall.   And those you who don’t really care, you should.  All of you, please, give me a few moments before you toss me into the waste basket.
        It was never the goal of Peter Zenger or Andrew Hamilton, who defended him,  to create a “free press” that was not proactive as modern journalism has become over the years. The battle Zenger fought was about freeing the press so it could do what government of any kind, shape or form has never been able to do in the history of mankind and womankind--represent the people's future needs, today.
         Zenger's original mission was to “protect and defend” America's freedom, not just report on them after they had been terrorized.   The media, newspaper and pamphlets in those days,  was duty-bound to "create freedom," by issuing to its readers solutions that needed to be put in place to suffocate those who tried to strangle freedom.   Journalism was then, proactive, offensive.  It made history, it did not report it.  
        Let me cite the principle of “Offensive Journalism” that both Peter Zenger and his attorney, Andrew Hamilton, set down for us to follow in times like these, when Journalism is being called on to fight the "Terrorism of an Oppressive Government."  For those who feel the bit  of history in their teeth, the Terrorist attack on America on the Second Tuesday of September, is a wake up call for Journalism to return to its historic roots.   To become "Offensive rather than Defensive" In its mission to protect its citizens from Terrorism of all forms and sizes, not only from the government within, and the extreme factions outside, but also from ourselves.
                                              CALLING THE QUESTION
         The questioned called is:  "Does Journalism have a new mission to protect its citizens from Terrorism, or, has Journalism abdicated that responsibility over to the Beast of Government it is supposed to guard?"   The second question.  "If Journalism assumes the responsibility to protect its citizens as the 'Voice of the people,'  what should it do and how should it do it?"   And, finally, "Is there any historic reference for Journalism to assume this role of protection, and if so, what is it, and how can it be authenticated?
         Let's see if we can answer these vital questions, and if we do, prepare a new the way of reporting the news of our nation.
         The New York Weekly Journal, the paper Zenger published, carried these words just a few weeks prior to his arrest for seditious libel.
         “The loss of liberty in general would soon follow the suppression of the liberty of the press; for it is an essential branch of liberty, so perhaps it is the best preservation of the whole.  Even a restraint of the press would have a fatal influence.  No nation ancient or modern has ever lost the liberty of freely speaking, writing or publishing their sentiments, but forthwith lost their liberty in general and became slaves.”
It is the word “sentiments” that stands as the base of Peter Zenger’s Sentinel of Vigilance. He did not use the word “news,” for “news” is a “fact”--”sentiment,” on the other hand, is an opinion, an attitude, a cast of min
            Zenger, Hamilton and the countless other colonists who were shaping a free America, foresaw the need for a press to issue out “offensive” positions, opinions, feelings, emotions about the preservation of their way of life.  They talked about the “future” of a “free people,” and took positions that the government tried to suppress, for in doing so, the paper itself became more powerful than government.    It became the “Voice of the people,” rather than a method of “knowing what’s happening today.”   The entire paper was an editorial--there were no “Op-Ed” pages buried where few could find them, or care about reading them.   The messages they wrote about were about “protecting the future liberties” of the people.  Such readership was vast.
           Today, after the fallout of the Terrorist attack the “sentiment” of the press remains silent.   In its place is a raft of “news,” but little if any “cast of mind,” or “attitude,” or “opinion” displayed on the front pages, or by the powerful anchors of electronic mediums.  If such “sentiment” exists, it is hidden inside, on editorial pages that the people who read Thomas Paine’s Common Sense could never find or relate to the style of writing that is so often “above the salt.”
           I propose America’s free press return to Peter Zenger’s principle of “offensive,” rather than “defensive” journalism.   “Defensive” journalism I consider is the reporting of the “news,” the “facts.”   “Offensive” journalism is the promotion of a sentiment, a belief, an opinion that is founded in the protection of children’s liberties, in their safety and security far into the future.
          Let me explain briefly why I focus on the children as the core of “offensive” journalism.
          When a monumental decision is about to be made, one which shakes the foundations of convention, one which brings any institution to question its editorial policy’s purpose, its mission to the whole of society, the litmus test is always, or should always be, “What’s the best for the children of our society?”

            There are many reasons to use the “children of a society” as a baseline for changing, or altering, or re-inventing policy.   It assures future readership in any paper, future viewer ship in any television medium, future listener ship in any radio medium.

            The second reason is that government makes its decisions on the policy and future of this nation based on the present--on whether such policy will garner more votes at the next election.  Its decisions ignore children, for children cannot vote.

            The third reason why children become the sounding board of policy changes, shifts, or sharpening is because of readership, viewer ship, and listener ship loyalty.    The adults of a nation hold as their greatest treasure their children.   Anyone who cares about their children stands out of the crowd, and draws the adults--the mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles--with them as they embrace the child’s needs with their policy, and champion the children’s protection as their mission.

            Certainly, there may be many more reasons why children exemplify the test of authenticity of change, but I will stop with those three primary ones, from my point of view.

            Let me explain the importance of using children to make your decision whether or not to incorporate Semper Vigilantes as part of your editorial policy through four examples of the power and results that will result if you do.

            In Part I, I will address the reasons why adopting the Semper Vigilantes theme will  enhance viewer ship for the national television media.  Part II will address the same subject to the newspapers of America.  Part III is directed to the radio networks.  And, Part IV, to those employing the Internet.  Finally, I will call all the media to collection action in hopes that a few will answer, and more will follow.


            My first request is directed specifically to television news shows. 

            I ask that the networks consider showing the logo, “Semper Vigilantes, (Always Vigilant) on the screen during the national news in a similar manner as they do their network’s brand name.  (I notice NBC has their Turkey in red white and blue--a beginning.)

            I also request that the anchor news people sign off with the comment, “Semper Vigilantes!--Always Vigilant”

            As a member of the Fourth Estate, a combat veteran, a citizen, and both a parent and grandparent, I feel I have both a right and a duty to make this plea of the children of Peter Zenger. 

            When I was inducted into Sigma Delta Chi many years ago, our journalistic society, I took a pledge to uphold the principles of journalistic freedom.  Fundamentally, that meant to me I was to protect the rights of the free press that were handed down by people like Peter Zinger and the framers of our Constitution.  In both cases, the ideals of freedom were not to protect the present, but rather the future of our freedoms.   “News,” which deals with the “present” has no impact on the preservation of any of our freedom.  It only reports history, for “news” is “what’s happening,” or “why it happened.”  “Sentiment,” that often overlooked word of Peter Zenger,  is “what should happen.”  It invokes the responsibility of protection versus that of reaction.

            Television, of course, is a medium of flashes of “news.”  We get a panoramic of “happenings” with little time to seek out and review the “sentiments” behind them.

            “News” also has allowed us to be bi-partisan so we can avoid offending anyone--especially our advertisers.   If we “don’t take positions” we can avoid alienating anyone, thus have a hundred-percent market potential for advertisers.  Our last great reporter of “sentiment” on national news was Walter Cronkite.   Whether we agreed with him or not, he tended to speak his beliefs.  And, he was the most watched news caster of his time.  (A lesson there?)

            Over the years, networks have become more global, finding that advertising revenue flows rich from both within the borders of Americas as well as without.   Any stand or policy solely American flies in the face of “network globalization.”  So we shy away more and more from anything that might tend to be considered “partisan.”  Even NBC’s Red, White & Blue Turkey probably underwent great consternation by some before approved, for fear it might be too “patriotic” for those in other parts of the world watching via satellite.  Networks have walked on “sentiment-avoidance eggshells” for far too long.


            But then comes something of such gargantuan nature that it staggers our mind, and throws the conventions we have lived with most our lives into question.   One of those conventions is the word “news” itself.  

            “News” is a perishable product.   It exists for a moment, like thunder or lightening, then it dissipates.   The clouds move away, the sun shines, and we await the next clap of thunder.  We wait for the “man to bite the dog.”   Or, we hunt down a man who would like to bite a dog so we can make the news if it doesn’t exit.

            We live by today’s headline.  We expect the unexpected, rushing to be first on the scene to “scoop” our competitors with our “exclusives” so we can sate the thirst of those who want to cling to the edge of human frailty, human experience, human suffering.

            Disasters are our steak and potatoes.  They are a feeding frenzy.  Everywhere we look there is a story--so many so fast we have to grind our teeth to decide which of the great stories is the greatest.   Is it the picture of the firemen raising the flag?  Or, the President standing upon the rubble with his arm around a fireman?

            But, in our haste to report the “news” we avoid “sentiment.”  We don’t fill the “news” with the mother cowering in the corner of her apartment with her child tightly held in her arms because that “turns off people.”  Fear is not what we want to promote.  Fear does not sell.   We focus on the brave.  The courageous.  The heroes.  If we use Fear, it is to counterbalance, to exaggerate the greatness of Courage.

            Our budgets to seek out the “news” does include a host of interview of children expressing their Fears, their concerns about the future of America, about how this will impact their lives, about their restless nights in the dark, thinking about things they do not understand, but feel are “bad” or “evil.” 

            We budget our “news” to find out what the CIA or FBI have on bin Laden.   What were the tracks of the Terrorists?  Where did they live?  What kind of people were they? (as if we didn’t know)  How much money has the government funded for internal security?   Who is qualified to sit on the committee?  Will it be “good” or “bad.”

            We ignore the cowering mother and her child or the fact the mother is so shaken by the events she turns off her television for fear the news of the “Hunt for bin Laden” will force her to tell her child that America is on its way to solving the problem--that her child will be safe, and secure just as soon as we torch the Terrorists responsible, and hold court on the new Hitler of Terrorism.

            But we don’t report that the mother knows deep in her maternal womb the hunt for the Beast of Terror isn’t the solution.  She doesn’t need to read or listen or watch the seductive road map of news stalking those responsible so they can pay for their crimes. She knows the Beast of Terror will return.  He has found his way to our home.  He has a key to our door.   He is innocent’s rapist, luring, waiting to strike again.  The news to hunt him down and “kill him” is like a drink.  It only anesthetizes reality for a moment, then when sobriety returns, so does reality.   She wants to know who is protecting her child in the future--not who is killing whom for what.

            But to the networks, the hunt for the Beast of Terror is big news.  It dwarfs the crying child who slides down under the covers to hide and stuffs the pillow in his or her mouth so mother won’t hear the secret  sobs of Fear the child issues about the presence of the “unknown bogeymen” who seem to be everywhere and nowhere.


            I want you to think about that child as your own for a moment, and consider how your network “sentiment” can change that child’s fear into a newly formed courage, and at the same time bring the mother back to turning on the news so she can be reassured someone other than the government who failed to stop the attackers in the first place, won’t be the only Sentinel of Vigilance looking after her children’s safety and security.

            Imagine a national news broadcaster showing the logo and telling Americans and the world viewer ship, that the network’s concern is not just about the news, but about maintaining “vigilance” in every home in America so we can replace Fear with Readiness in the minds of our children as well as ourselves.   And, that the network feels a duty and responsibility to display the signet of “vigilance” to remind all its viewers that if we collectively remain “Always Vigilant” then Terrorism can never attack us successfully, for we will be ready, not fearful.

            And, at the end of every news cast, the announcer signs off, “Semper Vigilantes!’

            No one needs more explanation.   The only weapon against Fear is Vigilance, awareness, readiness inside our hearts and souls.   Since Terrorism feeds on emotions, the battle to fight it must be waged in the same arena.   “Sentiments”, not “news,” are the tools journalism can use to bludgeon the spirit of Terrorism senseless, and help drive it out of the child’s emotional chemistry.


            Who is the child’s great protector outside its parents?   Is it the government, or the School Crossing Guard?   Is it the President of the Unified States, or the teacher in the classroom who guards the child’s innocence with his or her life?

            Protecting the children’s future today, right now, to me, is as important as reporting the Hunt for Bin Laden.   In the long run, it is far more important.

            What if, in the construction of the “news,” words like “tragedy,” and “victims” and “Black Tuesday,” and other frightening words we take for granted as “just accurate descriptions” were just another form of Terrorism, fueling that already delivered by the Terrorists.  What if each time we implied or inferred or stated a word like “disaster” the child construed that to mean “FEAR!”  

            And we do it over and over and over.

            Additionally, do those words we repeat without consideration to the innocent minds overhearing them, equally feed the Fear of the adults who listen, harden them to being “victims,” increase their thirst for revenge?

            If “censorship” exists for any reason, would it not be prudent to look at our descriptive vocabulary in terms of children, and children of Fear.   How brutal does a word have to be to drive a stake in a listener’s heart?  

            The point is, if we are to enact, or consider a policy of Semper Vigilantes, then it can’t be simply a mouthing of words over the air, but rather a considered plan of fighting the “Terrorism Within.”   All media experts know the impact of words on listeners, and if we can look at the choices we have to express ourselves from a “Vigilant Viewpoint,” then we are reaching deep into the foundations of what Peter Zenger meant when he said “sentiments.”

            I need not burden you with what kind of “news” you report, it is the manner and method of that reporting that can mean the difference between adding fuel to the Terrorists’ fire, and extinguishing it.


            The barriers to installing Semper Vigilantes are mighty and mountainous.  The first question anyone who proffers it is:  “How will that affect ratings?”   “What does this guy, McKenzie want out of it?”  “Who is he to suggest changing network policy?”  “We’ll do it our way.  We care about the kids.  Look at our clips, our sound bites.  Why, we care.”

            I don’t expect the networks to leap on the idea.  The primary reason is, it’s not exclusive.  I designed the logo for use by anyone, anywhere.   As far as I’m concerned, it is owned by the children of the world.  I took a two-thousand and nearly five-hundred-year-old idea and spun it to fit today’s needs.  Simonides designed his poem back then for the children of the future.    We are they.    Semper Vigilantes is their symbol of Faith and Conviction reminding the innocent and helpless those who promote it care more about their safety and security than any other single factor.

            But Semper Vigilantes is not “news.”   It’s principle.   It’s the principle of preserving and protecting freedom at the most grass roots level--within the hearts of our children, and their parents and relatives by default--over the long, long haul.   It isn’t a campaign that will run its course and the marketing department scrambles to find something to replace it.   It becomes a constitution of protection, if used properly.   Therein lies the rub to its acceptance.   

            The Spartans of Vigilance cannot be seen by skeptical, soured adults who have lived in reality so long they cannot see the magic of belief that only a child’s eyes can see.   With that said, it will be hard, perhaps impossible, to convince a Board of Directors that promoting the Spartans of Vigilance falls within the scope and mission of the network.   How will such a decision help bolster ratings?  How will it insure dominion over competitors? 


            I come from the world of marketing franchises.   My life has been spent in creating nations of small businesses, collectively bound under a corporate flag, not unlike the foundation of America was a few hundred years ago.   I know that “I haven’t met my next best customer yet.”  I know that what I do today will create a market for tomorrow.  I also know that children grow up quickly.   They move from the world of make believe to the world of reality in a blink of an eye.   When they do, they bring with them the dreams and fairy tales, or the nightmares and horrors, of their childhood.

            There can be few reasonable men and women who could deny the few seconds given to Semper Vigilantes by the networks would do anything harmful to the future market of consumers.

            Politically, the theme is a eunuch.   It neither leans left nor right.   Socially, there is not a sane person who would deny a child the sense of security in the future.   And morally, the Spartans of Vigilance have their roots in history--far back to the Battle of Thermopylae when the children of Greece were threatened by the Persians, thus providing substantial historic solidity to the theme. 

            I have no ownership on history.  Neither does anyone, for that matter.  But history can be used as a template for the future.    If we can believe that the Spartans of Vigilance are standing atop the rubble of the disaster, formed out of all those who died that day, one great spirit of strength--and we can transmit that image to our children--journalism will have reached back to the foundations of what Peter Zinger fought so hard to achieve. We will give “rebirth” to “sentiments.”

            In summary, I ask that you consider this option.  That you at least discuss it.  And if you don’t use the theme I suggest, consider one of your own.   Just make it focus on Vigilance!   Please!

PART TWO-----Print Media/Newspapers/Magazines

            I have a kinship for the printed word.   I am prejudiced, I admit it.   And the printed word offers the world a vast opportunity to go far beyond what the electronic media because of the time and space it provides for thoughts to be displayed.

            To the print media, I urge you to display the Semper Vigilantes logo in your papers.   Obviously, the front page is the key position, but anywhere will be a beginning.  

            Mastheads are sanctuaries.   However, given time and thought, perhaps one or more of the major publishers may see not only the social and moral benefit of including Semper Vigilantes in their masthead, but also see its immediate and future economic potential.


            As a capitalist, I find no conflict in discussing how the use of the theme, “Semper Vigilantes,” will generate more revenue.  

            I believe it will.  If it doesn’t have economic value, it will not be considered.  Money drives purpose.  Without money, the Terrorists could not have done what they did.  Without money, we cannot fight Terrorism with Vigilance.  So, one of the tests of the validity of Semper Vigilantes is its ability to increase revenue.

            First in the revenue department, let’s talk about market share.   There are two key elements to market share.  One, keeping existing customers.  Two, acquiring new ones.   There is no value in increasing new market share if we lose the ones we have.  Therefore, the great strength of Semper Vigilantes must be “brand loyalty.”

            To a television network or newspaper, “brand loyalty” means the consumer tunes you in more often the competition, or, reads your paper or magazine more than others available.   Brand loyalty includes many ingredients, but “trust” is one of the key ones.  

            Let’s first talk about existing customers and “brand loyalty” as a result of utilizing the theme “Semper Vigilantes.” 

            The simple question that needs to be asked and answered is:  “Would a stand we make to promote vigilance to the children of our community about overcoming Fear of Terrorism by promoting the Spartans of Vigilance, decrease or increase existing customer’s brand loyalty?”

            I could wax on and on about what I think is the answer, but, instead, I simply give you the question.  You thrash it out.   Turn it over and over and look at every crack and crevice as you should, and then, and only then, make a decision.  That’s how a prudent business would do it anyway.   If you decide to shelve the idea, at least you considered it.  And, if you change your mind later, you won’t have to wrestle with the decision. 

            Here are a few more questions you can ask as you’re looking at the underbelly of Semper Vigilantes.

            “Will parents be turned on or off?”

            “Will grandparents be more or less attracted to our policy of promoting Semper Vigilantes?”

            “Will, single, childless couples resent the stand?”

            “What will the religious of our community say, feel about a position of vigilance for the children?  Will they see us as interfering with their role, or adding to it?”

            “What about local government?  Should we usurp their plans and policy of issuing their systems of protecting our community?  Or does this compliment theirs?”

            I’m sure you’ll find many acid tests to dip Semper Vigilantes into to see if it has the mettle of surviving your questions.  These are just a few suggestions.


            As you know, the second part of a good market share analysis is whether or not the theme Semper Vigilantes will assist in building new customers.   Keeping existing customers is only half the battle.

            Here are some litmus paper test questions:

            “Will the use of Semper Vigilantes deter any consumer from purchasing?  Why?”

             “Will it drive away any existing or potentially new advertiser?” 

            “How will it enhance the depth of the paper, and become a  selling tool for sales forces who to develop new accounts?  Retain old ones?”

            Let’s look a couple of these answers.  First, new advertisers.  My experience in marketing small communities is that there is one business for about every thirty people in the community population.  Ad budgets vary from one to ten percent, depending on the kind of business.   New customers fall into two categories--the brand new business starting up, and the seasoned business either growing or declining in market share.

            New business starts are the best for anyone in sales.   He or she who gets there first usually has the edge.   But if your paper is promoting something in addition to its circulation and demographics, such as Semper Vigilantes to insure the readiness of the community and the children, you have an additional edge.   Would that be a good closing tool for a salesperson, to close on the emotional value of Semper Vigilantes rather than just all the competitive facts?   Ask your sales force.

            Next, you have existing businesses currently either using your competitor, or some other format such as coupons, etc.   Going back to Peter Zenger, can your paper create brand loyalty for Semper Vigilantes with the public, and can that brand loyalty be transferred to your advertises by default?   It certainly comes down to selling skills, but if I were customer using competitive advertising resources, I would ask, “You can see how brand loyalty for the theme Semper Vigilantes will help you acquire and retain more customers who consider you a part of helping their children reduce their Fear of Terrorism, can’t you?”

            While that’s a mouthful, it can be whittled down.  The essence is to show how your commitment to the community can translate to the commitment  the community has to those who advertise in your publication.   This allows you a bold, new avenue toward expanding your share.


            There is another tool your advertising sales team can utilize to expand their penetration of both existing and new advertisers.

            Again, through a well-planned campaign, you can arm your sale steam with Semper Vigilantes logos and information to be displayed by participating advertisers.

            I am in the process of including all the suggestions and formats on the design page which are free for you to use in any way you find effective to offer in-store promotion of the theme. (logo use)

            Simplistically, the logo would appear in the windrow, or by the cash registers.   Any printed material would be displayed at the discretion of the owner of the business.    And, I’m sure your art departments could come up with many variations that would be both cost effective and impactful.

            Your sale steam has these “free kits” available to any advertiser--including those using your competition.   It offers the salesperson an opportunity to call on a competitive account in a non-selling, non-threatening way.   The back-end of the presentation, of course, is why they should advertise with you, and any promotions you might have.

            Even if the close doesn’t occur that day, who is to say something might go wrong a week later with a screwed up ad, and the owner decides to shift to you because you “gave freely.”  



            I don’t think so.  Fear of change will keep the market open.

            Change requires courage, and most businesses are as Terrorized about change as children are of the dark.  Change brings the unknown.  I’ve watched businesses do the same thing they did day after day as their business dropped, fearful of making a change even though they were bleeding to death.  It never makes sense.  But it is the nature of things.   It is also the reason why Semper Vigilantes is so important.  Very quickly people will fall back to the routine comforts, forget about Terrorism, becoming complacent.  And then the next attack will drive them into a frenzy.  Their children’s fear will be compounded.   Businesses are the same, especially newspapers and magazines--or for that matter--the media in general.  “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,” is the cry and hue of Complacency.

            I have two answers to the question of Exclusivity.

            First is first. 

             The first paper who elects to employ Semper Vigilantes as a theme in its editorial policy will have “exclusivity.”  While that publication is out selling its ears off acquiring new accounts,  competitors will grovel over the question of whether they should do it or not.   The gap between the “doers” and the “waiters” is the “exclusive gap.”  If you are the “doer,” you will have the edge.

Everyone who comes after you will be second.  You can “cream the market,” “cherry pick the share.” 

            It comes down to the old story of the people who lead the parade, play in it, or just watch it go by.   You can be the first to do it, the second, the third, or, the last.  It is your choice.


            Again, as part of a capitalistic society, I don’t think so.  But everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.   First, let’s take Peter Zenger.  He had numerous motives for his actions when he challenged government to print what he wanted to say without censorship.   I truly believe he would never had made the stand if he wasn’t concerned about the future of all the press, throughout time.   That was his Big Picture.   As my Big Picture is that our children will learn to fight Fear with Vigilance, and the more the logo and what it stands for is communicated to them through their communities, the better the chance of them being protected, and their children protected.   This motive drives me to be a meager Voice among giants, to feel I can make a difference in the long run, even if no one acts on what I say today.   When Peter Zenger when to jail, he didn’t know if he would ever get out.   He was willing to die in jail for his beliefs.

            Now, I’m sure there as “crass commercial” motive to Peter Zenger’s actions.   There always is to everyone’s actions.  That motive is “What’s In It For Me?  My Wife?  My Family?  My Children?”             I’m sure Peter Zenger calculated that if he were to win the fight--a long and bitter one--and he could print anything he wanted against the government without fear of being thrown in jail or having his paper burned to the ground, he would make a lot of money.  People would read his paper right and left.   He would create “brand loyalty” over the competitors who were afraid to challenge the authority of government, who sat complacent while this German immigrant took on His Majesty’s representative.  

            I believe Peter Zenger knew that unless he had money to publish a newspaper, he couldn’t get his message out--the message of “sentiments,” the message people really want to hear.   “Crass?”  I don’t think so.  Not under the principle of capitalism.   Like myself.  While I don’t want to get into the business of “selling stuff” on my website like armbands and Semper Vigilantes logos (which I might be able to make a small fortune doing) I’m not in that business.  I’m in the “sentiments business.”   I write not the “news” of today, but try and write the “importance of the news tomorrow.”  I want the headlines of tomorrow to scream:  “Our Children Are Prepared For Terrorism.  They Are Vigilant!”   But, I need to eat and pay the rent and clothe myself and my wife, and have a sense of economic security so I can continue to write and publish and pay my bills, and my health insurance (which is a $1,000 a month) and my cell phone and my Starbucks Coffee.

            So I ask people to “Pay What They Think My Writing Is Worth.”  I usually ask them to send in at least $1.00, one dollar.   That means to me they really found value in what I had to say, because I know the cost of reaching into your wallet, pulling out a buck, finding an envelope, addressing it, putting on a stamp, and mailing it.  Now, that’s expensive.   For someone to go that effort tells me I’m doing my job.  I tell people, “just send a buck, one dollar.”  I need the economic incentive to know the value of my writing is not falling on deaf ears.  Sure, I’d love to open envelopes with more than a buck in them, but I don’t expect that.   I expect the effort to be shown that people find value, and if they do, I will gladly accept the money and spend it with gratitude.   Crass?  No!  Crass would be me selling armbands and logos. 


            How do you do it?  How do you get started.   My answer is simple.  Just call Nike.  They’ll tell you.   Or, if you have questions, e-mail me.  I’ll be glad to answer anything I can.  But, it will cost you a buck, one hard-earned dollar.

            Crass, huh?  Or, maybe just capitalistic.  Or, maybe just practical.

PART III----Radio

            Most Americans spend a great portion of their lives in vehicles, listening to news or music or talk shows or a variety of combinations of them.

            The arena here is vast for Semper Vigilantes.   Talk show hosts can take the principle of “vigilance” and turn it on its many sides, endlessly finding ways to focus on the need to protect America’s future by fighting both the “Fear Without” as well as the “Fear Within.”

            As a nation we have many ills, the worst of which has been our national complacency.   So many people have felt like “wandering generalities” instead of “meaningful specifics,” as national speaker Zig Ziglar is so renowned for saying. 

            This “wandering generality” syndrome has permeated our society in many ways--through drugs, alcohol, sex, crime and bitterness toward the “haves” and “have nots.”

            We have been a nation without a cause for so long we have turned inside ourselves to find the “meaning of life.”  We take pills to feel better, we suffer “fatigue syndrome,” we complain we don’t have as many “equal rights” as one group versus another.   We have been fighting the “Beast Within” for far too long.   It has driven many of us to sense of defeat, a sense of worthlessness, a sense of devaluation of our minds, our bodies, our souls.

            Now, a new dawn has cast its light on America.

            The joys of Paradise are over.   We no longer can sit and worry about ourselves in peace.  We no longer can ask ourselves “who and why am I, and how come I’m not as good as Joe or Mary?”

            When the World Trade Center collapsed, it leveled the playing field.  The millionaires and the minimum wage all died the same kind of death.  Money, fame, fortune, the size of a bank account, the kind of car one drove--none of that mattered in the rubble.

            Everyone became one.  At Ground Zero, I felt that oneness for the first time my life.

            Social, political, spiritual and financial borders of separation dissolved at 8:46 a.m, September 11, 2001.   A common cause rose out of the rubble that recognized no distinction between the rich and poor, the white, the black, the yellow, the Buddhist, the Christian, the Jew, the Islamic.    All divisions and doubts about “who we are,”  and “what we are here on this earth to do,” crumbled into a twisted mass of concrete and steel.   Our differences as people were buried that day.

            At that instant, 8:46, “Semper Vigilantes” was born.   The Spartans of Vigilance rose up out of the ashes, a combination of all the bits and pieces of those who died--men and women--all different colors and shapes and sizes, all different languages, from over eighty different nations--all melted into one, their ashes formed one body.

            If our talk shows and radio announcers and disc jockeys take a moment, they can see the story of “Unity, In Death And Life,” (link to Semper Vigilantes) rising from the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the farm field in Pennsylvania.

            “Unity, In Death And Life!”

            Those with radio audiences from the small farming communities to the large syndicated radio networks, can take this opportunity to remind Americans what the words--E Pubis Unum--Unified, as One!   They came to life that day.  They need to be kept alive.

            No longer can anyone in America hide behind the disguise they are a “wandering generality.”  The Terrorists ended our confusion, our worry about self-worth, our concerns about the “haves vs. the have nots.”

            We were all stripped naked that day.  No one was safe.  No one is safe today.  No one will be safe tomorrow.

            Every citizen must be responsible for “vigilance.”  If not for themselves, then for the children.   No adult can fairly shirk that responsibility.

            The press is the first to realize the government cannot protect us from harm--for if it were able, we wouldn’t have been harmed.  Government reacts.  People are proactive.  That’s what talk shows are all about.   Talk shows sell “sentiments,” sometimes issued in narrow formats, but distinctly and exactly what Peter Zenger fought for.

            Vigilance is a duty. .

            Today, we have a choice.  That is to abdicate “Semper Vigilantes” to our government and turn our backs on the safety of our children and their children’s children, or, to grab that responsibility and not let loose of it.

            Semper Vigilantes is the obligation of every citizen.  The disaster on September 11 proved that.   Every citizen helped every other citizen that day.  I was there.   I saw it.   I felt it.  I received it.

            That moment of communion with each other as people with common needs and goals must be preserved if we are to stave off Terrorism with Readiness.   No government can protect a nation, only a nation can protect itself.

            In Switzerland, every citizen is a member of the militia, armed and ready to fight for their country’s freedom and their children’s safety.  They are constantly vigilant.  And few think about attacking them, for to do so, they would have to kill every man, woman and child.  They are “Semper Vigilantes.”

            America can take that model and apply it through Semper Vigilantes.   Radio announcers can have a field day promoting the end of the an era of selfish concerns that drive us to the brink of wasting our lives searching for its meaning--or, they can take the meaning of life from September 11 and be responsible for the protection of the children’s future in this country, and ergo, the protection of all who reside within our borders.

            The agenda for such programming is endless, for the enemy the Terrorist unleashed upon America is the “Enemy Within.”  To fight that enemy we must be vigilant.  We must carve out our selfishness and learn a new kind of selflessness that was exhibited by thousands of people helping others at the risk of their own lives on September 11.

            We must keep the Spartans of Vigilance alive within, as well as without.  And Radio can be a leader in that cause...for the Voice and the passion of the Voice carries with it a power that printed words can never match, and television never has the time to afford.

            You, of the radio.  Listen to Peter Zenger’s talk show.  He is your father, your grandfather.  Listen to him.  Semper Vigilantes


            The Internet is the Voice of the world community..

            I cannot begin to comprehend the power of the Internet, for it brings the community of the world within a fingertip of one another.   Individuals speaking across cyberspace provides a bridge to building a world of Vigilance.  It gives Semper Vigilantes a global power to protect not just Americans, but citizens in every country.

            I can only urge every company involved in the Internet to deploy the logo in a variety of forms.  Let the citizens of the world know it is available to them also.  All any citizen of a nation  needs to do is put their flag on it, and translate the words: “Unified, In Death And Life!’ in their language.

            Terrorism knows no borders, as anyone who has lived under its dark shadow knows.   Now that America is part of the world of Terrorism--no longer impregnable or invincible to its horror--it joins a world community seeking alliances to fight the Fear Terrorism seeks to sow in the minds of the communities it attacks..

            The power of Semper Vigilantes is not granted by government aid, or international treaties, or ruled by the G-7.   The Power of Vigilance comes from one mother talking to another in another land, one father sharing with another in a different country, one teenager promoting how “cool”  Semper Vigilantes and its principles are with another thousands of miles away.   It is one uncle or aunt or cousin or grandparent sharing their “vigilance” against Terrorism with people who might have thought America was too high and mighty to be reduced to a level playing field with the world at large.

            But it has been.   We are E Pubis Unum.  We are “one of many of the world.”

            Our common concern about our children and their future overrides all cultural differences.  There is no degrees of difference anywhere in the world regarding a loving mother or father has for their children’s safety or security.  

            So the Internet will be our most powerful tool to universalize Semper Vigilantes.    We can learn and we can share from each other.


            It all truly begins with you, the press, the media.  Peter Zenger set up the system, the principles long ago.  Now, you can choose to take the gauntlet or not.

            If only a few of you are brave and courageous enough to start the process, others will follow.

            You can lead America into a state of unification we have never known before, and help take down the walls of separation which have riddled our nation with problems.

            You can start with a logo on NBC, CBS, ABC, MTV, USA, TBS, QVC, FOX, (ADD MORE).  Or, it can be a small, lonely television station in some quaint town in the middle of nowhere that starts the ball rolling.  It doesn’t matter who sets it in motion, it only matters it moves forward.

            You can start simplistically, by signing off, “Semper Vigilantes.”  You never have to explain where it came from.   You need not give it any credit except for a Greek poet 2,500 years ago who inscribed words on paper that have lasted for millenniums.

            Newspapers can start printing the logo, perhaps some in their masthead, and offering their advertisers logos to put up in their shops and stores to symbolize their alliance with Semper Vigilantes.

            Radio announcers can begin by pointing to Semper Vigilantes and its historic roots as a rally point that will bring citizens closer in unity, focused on the future of a great country’s security for its children.

            Internet companies and users can begin talking Semper Vigilantes, and offering one another universal tools to stand Fearless in the face of Terrorism--both that which threatens us today, and that which our children may face in the future.

            And when we--the press--have taken the first step, Peter Zenger will salute us.  He will be proud the press has become the “Sentinels of Vigilance,” as he hoped we would many years ago.

            Respectfully Submitted to my Peers,


            Clifford A. McKenzie

            New York City Combat Correspondent

                                                               Go To: Prayer For The 370 Pounds Of Souls

©2001 - 2004, VigilanceVoice.com, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design