"Semper Vigilantes" = Always Vigilant

Welcome to the Semper Vigilantes Page

On this page we will review the importance of wearing the above armband, or variations of it, and its history and meaning.  We do not sell armbands, or variations of the Semper Vigilantes Theme.   They are for you, the people of America and the world, to use.  It is our contribution to being "Always Vigilant" against Terrorism.   The following article explains the need for "Semper Vigilantes" and its historic roots.  For more information on its use,  go to LOGO PAGE.

SEMPER VIGILANTES  “Always Vigilant”

Cliff  McKenzie--NYC Combat Correspondent

            GROUND ZERO--How do we pay just and honorable tribute to the thousands who died in the horrific terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
Do we build memorials to the fallen?  Do we dedicate one day a year to remember them as we have December 7  when Pearl Harbor was attacked?
 What about a mourning wall with all the victim’s names.
 Surely, there will be thousands of suggestions to honor the dead of September 11, 2001.
But Americans should consider going far beyond merely honoring the dead of September 11, 2001.  They should bring them back to life, as sentinels, guardians, Spartans standing vigil over the present and future security of this great country from terrorism.
The death of the thousands who died on the historic Second Tuesday of September, represent a new dawn in America’s history. 
It is the day Terrorism went to war with Peace.  It is the day of the death of America’s innocence.
          Henceforth, no day will pass when the sound of a jet engine overhead won’t make at least one hair on the back of anyone who was there day stand up in anticipation of attack.
           When we take a drink of water, there will be a question of when and where that water might be filled with deadly bacteria.   Or when an explosion occurs, and a cloud of dust rises, those who remember the Second Tuesday of September will cringe slightly, praying the dust doesn’t carry with it some poison that will render a painful death to all who inhale it.
           Going to baseball or football game, or any event where people are massed together presents that slim possibility that as the mass huddles some bomb might explode.   And traveling on a jetliner?  Well, little needs to be said about that.
            None of us want to think through the impact of terrorism on both large and small cities.   We would rather bury the dead and get on to living the life we lived before September 11, 2001.   It would be so much easier.
           But we cannot.
 America can never return to its “Days of Innocence.”  Never before in modern history has America been attacked with such devastation upon its civilian force, on its own continent.   More Americans were killed on the Second Tuesday of September than in any single battle of the civil war, and nearly five times as many Americans died that day as did those at Pearl Harbor.
It is time for America to stop taking drugs to hide from its emotional pain, stop whining about the “pressure of life,” and start realizing that at any minute a terrorist could kill not only adults, but children, pregnant women, the old--and cheer about it.
            But who and what will keep Americans from retreating into emotional denial from the reality of a new way of life--living with terrorism?   What antidote is there that will bring the tranquility of peace and prosperity back to the heart and soul of over 300 million citizens?
           And, if there is a reason why the innocent died on September 11, 2001--what is it?  What justification can be made to give dignity and pride to the death of so many who were simply living another day of their lives before the terrorists ripped that life not only from them, but also from their families, their friends, and their nation.
 History provides us a blueprint to immortalize the dead among the living, to resurrect their spirits and souls in our daily lives so we never forget “why” they gave their lives for our future security, for our future peace and freedom,
The architect of how to keep our fallen brothers and sisters alive  was a Greek poet  named Simonides.  Nearly 2,500 years ago he wrote a poem memorializing the Battle of Thermopylae.
           That battle was not unlike the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the ill-fated flight possibly heading to the White House that brave passengers thwarted.
            In July of 480 B.C. the Persian army attacked the Greeks, hoping to annihilate them.   Greece, historically, is the seat of modern democracy.  It was the Greeks who laid the foundation for the peace and freedom we enjoy today.  They are the grandparents of the principles of democracy the terrorists were trying to quash when they attacked the innocent, the helpless, the defenseless on September 11.

            At the Battle of Thermopylae, nearly a quarter of a million Persians massed to lay waste to 1,300 Spartans led by King Leonides.  Spartans were renowned for their fierce fighting ability, and their principle of never retreating, of fighting to the last man.   The Spartans weren’t intimidated by the odds.

            To destroy the Spartan army, the Persians had to traverse a narrow pass in Thermopylae.   King Leonides sent three-hundred of his fiercest soldiers to hold the enemy back at least for one day so he could rally his defenses and prepare for the hoards.

            The three-hundred Spartans not only held back the massive attacks of the enemy for one day, but through their bravery, added two more days so their army could prepare.  They gave their lives to protect their land from terrorism.

            Greek poet Simonides recognized the need to immortalize their sacrifice..   To keep their memory alive throughout time, and to use the fallen as a symbol of "vigilance" to all future generations, he wrote this line in his epithet as a reminder to never forget the need for readiness against any and all enemies:              

            “Oh, you who pass by, tell the Spartans that we are lying here, being obedient to their commands.”

            Simonides carefully crafted his words so immortality rang from the page upon which they were scribed.    “...we are lying here being obedient...”    He purposely used the present tense, “we are lying here...” so there would be no question that the dead had not been buried in mere memories.  

            Instead of burying them in a memorial, he turned the brave and courageous defenders of “peace and freedom” into sentinels, standing vigil, watching, and, warning anyone who might threaten Greece again they were ready to rise up and fight again, another day.

            “...that we are lying here, being obedient to their commands.”

            Americans have the opportunity to keep the memory of their Spartans of Vigilance who died September 11 alive, just as Simonides provided his Spartans with the immortality of his words.

            By believing that those who died were not “victims of a tragedy,” but instead, “Spartans of Vigilance,” we view them in a different light.  We see a reason for their death, and, we believe they stand vigil over safety, reminding us they too are “lying here, being obedient to our command to not become complacent, to never relax our defensive posture, to always remember that America is not invincible.”

            How easy it would be to think of the thousands of dead lying under the rubble of the World Trade Center, or smashed in the twisted metal and concrete of the Pentagon, or those who died in the crashed airliner in Pennsylvania, were "victims" of a tragedy.   To believe that would minimize their death.   It would make them die without a reason, and their lives cut short without purpose.

            I believe they died to offer us thousands of symbols of perpetual vigilance. Their deaths are a warning to us to not become complacent, to not surrender to the idea that “life will return to a normal, peaceful state as it once was in America.”

            Terrorism feeds on the complacency of a nation’s people.   When people start to believe that the “worst is over,” and desire to go back to a life where they ignore the threat of terrorism striking again and again--they open the door to even more terrorism.  We swept Pearl Harbor under the rug.  Why not eventually forget about the Second Tuesday of September?

            If we believe in history, then we can make each of those who died a Spartan of Vigilance.  We can have all who gave their lives that day stand immortal in our minds as the Greeks have done with their Spartans of Thermopylae.

            First, we must believe that all those who died that day were de facto defenders of our freedom.   We must see them as Spartans of Peace and Freedom.

            Even though not a single one of those who died that day expected to give their lives, they did.  They died in combat.   The instant the terrorist plane struck, war was declared upon each and every American.   At that precise instant, those who died stopped being civilians and became Spartans, de facto defenders of freedom.  They became as brave as heroes of the liberty fighting in the Battle of Thermopylae           

            Americans, and people throughout the world, have a choice today to either bury the memory of the dead, or keep it alive, keep it on guard, forever watchful, constantly warning us to not let our guard down. 

            If we wish, we can hear the poet's words telling us our Spartans of the Twenty-first Century are still alive, waiting in readiness.

            “...we are lying here obedient to their commands.”

           If we bury their memory and call them “victims of terrorism,” it would complete the terrorists’ attack.   It would rob America of the value of their death.  We would bury the Terror, not destroy it.

            We need Spartans of Vigilance.   We need them alive, not buried.

            In the dark shadows of cruel men’s hearts, are plots brewing for the death of more innocent people.   Who will stand vigil to protect us?  Do we turn that responsibility over to the government?   Do we neglect personal duty and responsibility to watch over our children, our home, our neighborhoods.

            The government has asked everyone to participate in the "Neighborhood Watch."   What better way to watch over Terrorism than to wear an armband, or a hat with an emblem, or a pin with the words: "Semper Vigilantes" blazing out to intimidate the eyes of the Terrorist waiting for our complacency to return, waiting for us to sweep the World Trade Center "tragedy" under the rug.

            Our "Neighborhood Watch" needs to shout out our concern to the world.  We need to keep the memory of Spartans of Vigilance alive, so they can instill us with purpose and reason to remain vigilant when we want to forget, when we want slide back to the "old, easy, comfortable ways." 

            Wearing the Semper Vigilantes armband is one such way we can commit ourselves to keep alert, to defend ourselves so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to terrorize us ever again.

            Terror is about the unexpected.   When a nation is not ready, thinks it is invincible, assumes others are standing vigil over its Peace and Freedom, the terrorists smell blood.   It is this complacency that must be attacked from within.   We, as individuals, as communities, as a city, as a state, and as a nation, must show a collective front to the terrorists of the world.  We must let them know our sentinels are alive, not dead.  We must let them know our Spartans live in our hearts and minds, ever watchful, waiting for orders to rise up against any and all invaders.

            The armband was constructed so its message would drive terrorists from us, and never let us forget the need for vigilance.

            At the top of the armband are two Latin words:  Semper Vigilantes.   They  mean, Always Vigilant.   The words are more than a statement.  When worn on a person’s arm, they send a signal to the terrorist of a personal commitment to stand up to terrorism.   It tells the terrorist that whomever is wearing it will not allow themselves or the ones they love to be surprised, or shocked, or horrified by attack.

            Terrorism thrives on intimidation.  The terrorist is simply a bully in deadly clothing who feeds on people's fears, who stalk the unprepared, the defenseless., Wearing the armband intimidates those who prey on complacency, indolence, ignorance.

            “Always Vigilant!   Semper Vigilantes!”

            Under the Latin words is the date--"the day of infamy" to some.  To others, it is the day of the birth of the "Spartans of Vigilance."  I prefer to look at the date as the "Day Of Vigilance."   It is the day of resurrection, not the day of death.

            In the middle of the armband is the American Flag.  It stands for unity.  The red in the stripes stands for the blood of those who gave their lives that day on September 11 in a heroic act of bravery against Terrorism.  The white is the purity, the innocence that died with them.  And the blue field and stars symbolize the unity of a nation of individuals, each of whom have the freedom to stand up for their beliefs, whatever their nature.  But all have the duty to protect that freedom, however they elect to do it.  Freedom is not freedom without the attendant responsibility to defend it.

            Under the American flag are four, powerful words:  Unified, in death and life!

            The words simply remind us that our Sentinels of Vigilance lie waiting to be called up--to help defend us from the Terror Without and Within.   They remind us all those who died are alive in our minds, standing vigil with us, for us.

            They are our eyes.  Our ears.   They warn us to never be complacent, for they are not.

“Oh you who pass by tell the Spartans that we are lying here being obedient to their commands.”

            They are our support, our heroes who remind us we can never afford again to believe we are invincible.   And, that we need not live in fear.   But instead, we can live with vigilance.

            Unified, in death and life!

            The exclamation point that follows the statement is a message to our enemies.   We will not surrender to their terrorism.  We will not succumb to complacency.   We will not bury our Spartans.   They live with us, watching, listening, protecting us from ourselves.

            Unified, in death and life!

            Now, the question.  Who will wear the armband?   When?   Or is it too uncomfortable?  Does it create too much pain? 

            Think about making a statement.  A big one, or a small one.

           If wearing an armband is unreasonable, then think about wearing something--a band, a pin, a hat, with the words "Semper Vigilantes" on it daily, or every other day, or for an hour a day, or twice a week, or at least once a week--on Tuesday.  Make Tuesday "Semper Vigilantes Day."  Or, if you feel uncomfortable with every Tuesday, try the Second Tuesday of each month.  

            The point is, don't forget to remember.  Don't think the government is going to defend you against Terrorism, for Terrorism attacks people, not governments.  Its target isn't governments, it's people like you...living in quiet peace and harmony.  Terrorists want you to be afraid, or complacent.  They don't expect you to stand up to them--to look them in they eye.  They expect you to run behind your government's skirts, to hide, to shiver in fright.  They enjoy that, as all bullies do.

            The terrorists would like us to tremble in fear.  And while we vow we won't, we will, unless we commit to some action, unless we find some method of presenting our "vigilance" for the world to see. 

            Those who prey on complacency of a nation would love nothing more than for Americans to act as though nothing happened but a freak attack, something that might never happen again--at least not to their city, not to their community, not to their homes, and certainly, not to them or their families.

            But history tells us Terrorism is here to stay.  Twenty-five hundred years ago a Greek poet warned us to keep vigilant:

“Oh you who pass by tell the Spartans that we are lying here being obedient to their commands.”

            Those who wear the armband, or some form of Semper Vigilantes, will keep our Sentinels of Vigilance alive.  They will bring vigilance to the small towns where it would seem everyone was so safe and secure and protected.  But who is to say the terrorists aren't planning their next attack on "safe America," some small town that seems "invincible," that seems far from the reach of terrorism?

            And is there a responsibility to our children?  Do we owe them the responsibility of vigilance?   Can we tell them we're wearing the armband, or hat or pin to protect our community from those who try and create fear in innocent people's lives?   Can we set a model for our children of how we can take a stand against terrorism no matter how safe we think we are?  Do we owe that much to those who gave their lives on the Second Tuesday of September?

            Winston Churchill said:  "Stand for something or be nothing!"   Perhaps this is the most important stand we can make today, not only for America, but for all people who are threatened by Terrorism.  And perhaps our vigilance, our small commitment will spread to others, and drive Terrorism out in the open where it can be eliminated.

           Now, it is time to unite.

          Think it through.  Think about the power of one Voice in the crowd.   Even if you're the only one who wears an armband, or a hat, or an emblem with the words Semper Vigilantes on it--you'll be honoring the Spartans of Vigilance.   You'll be "Standing For Something!"

            Then look at your children.  Or, if you don't have any,  look at someone's child.  See the innocence in his or her face.  And think of a Terrorist who seeks to kill that innocence, to destroy the child's purity with violence.

            Ask yourself if wearing something with Semper Vigilantes is worth the protection of one child's innocence?

            Then make  your decision.

            Make it from the bottom of your heart.

            Semper Vigilantes  Cliff McKenzie


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