Who We Are


Who We Are!  What We Do!  Why We Do It!


Q. What Are The Pictures Above All About?

The first picture is the "Armband of Vigilance." Our Team designed a few days after the Terrorist attack to remind citizens of America and the world of the need to protect our children from future Terrorism at the grass roots level--the individual community level.  The armband brings to life "The Spartans of Vigilance".   It honors all who died on the Second Tuesday of September as heroes--Sentinels of Vigilance--ready to rise up and defend America and the world against all enemies from "within or without" when and if they try to strike Fear upon the foundations of Peace.   The second picture is of me at Ground Zero on September 11.  It was taken by Santiago Baez, international photographer, as I wrote my feelings and facts about the holocaust I was just part of.  The picture ran in the French Magazine, vsd, on Sept. 26, 2001.

Q. Who Should Wear The Armband? 

Anyone.  Men, women, children, the military, politicians, senior citizens.  It was designed so those who wear it affirm that the worst enemy we face in the current and future battle with Terrorism is not "fear" but “complacency.”  Terrorism of all sizes and shapes will continue to attack when we least expect it--especially as we let our guard down.   But when more and more Americans, and citizens of other countries, wear the symbol of “vigilance”--Semper Vigilantes--it puts another nail in Terrorism’s coffin.  It tells Terrorists we’re not “afraid,” not “complacent,” but instead, we’re “vigilant.”  Then, Terrorism will fear us because we are ready to fight it.  Fear always runs from Vigilance.

Q. What Do The Latin Words "Semper Vigilantes" Mean?

"Semper Vigilantes” is Latin for “Always Vigilant!”  The statement reminds us to never forget what happened when the Terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and attempted to blow up the White House.  Semper Vigilantes (Always Vigilant) shouts at us to never become complacent, never think America is invincible or impregnable again.   It is our beacon in the night, guiding us through our daily lives with one eye always open to the "unexpected."   
go to Semper Vigilantes Page For More Information

Q. What About The Words Under The Flag?

Beneath the American flag--which represents the unity of our 50 separate franchised states, each enjoying one common democratic freedom-- are the words: “Unified, In Death And Life!" 

These words were chosen to remind us there was a reason “why” all those innocent, unsuspecting people died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a lonely farmer’s field in Pennsylvania.  It would be a travesty to call those who died “victims of a terrorist attack.”  If we did, it would suggest the Fallen gave their lives in a senseless act of Terrorism.  As "victims," their memory would slowly fade as we rushed to build a monument to them and then rushed on to continue with our lives.   We don't need another Pearl Harbor, where those who died are faintly remembered fifty years later in tiny columns on the front page of newspapers on December 7, if at all.  We need daily headlines commemorating the reason for the death of so many innocent so we can keep the reason they died alive and growing in our thoughts and our children's thoughts.  If we do, we "unite" the living and the dead.   We become "one" with their memory.   We absorb their deaths in our daily lives, and it gives reason and justice to the senseless murder of the innocent that day. 

The words:  “Unified, In Death And Life!” brings the dead up out of the ground.  It gives them legs to walk on, hands to put on our shoulders, ears to listen to them warn us of the enemy’s constant presence, and lips to whisper in our ears the words "vigilance...vigilance..." so we can always be prepared for future attacks.   The words, “Unified, In Death And Life,” turn “Victims Of Tragedy” into “Spartans of Vigilance”--our ever watchful sentinels over our "peace and freedom." 

Q. What Are Spartans of Vigilance?  And, Where Did The Words Come From?

 The words, “Unified, In Death And Life!”  were distilled with the help of Joseph "Skip" Hamilton Jr., from a epithet written nearly 2,500 years  by the Greek poet Simonides to honor the Battle of Thermopylae. 

Simonides immortalized three-hundred Spartans who died protecting their fellow citizens from the “terrorist attacks” of a reported 250,000 Persians seeking to destroy the Greek way of life in 480 B.C.  Ironically, Greece was the seat of modern democracy.  They were essentially our great grandfathers of “peace and freedom.”  The three-hundred Spartans sent to hold back the hordes of Persians, died valiantly so thousands more could live. 

Simonides, the Greek poet, wrote about their heroism. He made them living sentinels through his words, vigilant guardians ready to rise up to defend Greece against other Terrorists in the future.  His story is a lesson.  It tells us we can choose to not bury the memories of the Fallen as “victims,” but instead, elevate them to “immortal sentinels" who keep a watchful eye to protect both present and future generations.

Q. What does the black color of the armband mean?

    The black background is a symbol of Nothingness.  Terrorism is "nothingness."  It is a Black Hole.  Vigilance must stand over Terrorism, so the words "Semper Vigilantes" and "Unified, In Death And Life!" are raised above the abyss of Terrorism.  They stand for Something, above the Nothing.  It means we rise about the "senselessness" of killing innocent people.

Q. And the Flag...?

    The American Flag represents our unity as a nation.  Terrorism attacks in the neighborhoods of any country, aiming its harm on the weak and helpless.  But its result is a wound in the soul of a nation.   America's unity, its peace, its tranquility, and its prosperity were all ravaged by the attack.  To fight it, we must band together as one in Semper Vigilantes.  Only as "one" can we defeat Terrorism.  There are nearly 8,000 communities in America of 20-30,000 populations.  Terrorists will attack those communities as well as our large metropolitan areas, just to show their dark, ominous hand can reach anywhere.  Only through unity will we protect what our flag represents.   And, any nation who wishes can adopt the symbol of Semper Vigilantes by simply replacing the American Flag with their own.

Q. Do You Sell Patches?  Are you capitalizing on this?

No.  This website doesn't sell products or seek to capitalize on the deaths of our Spartans of Vigilance.  Our designs are available for vendors to produce and sell at will. We offer any company the right to use freely the theme and all its variations (pens, hats, emblems, flags, banners, etc.).  Frankly, we hope many will produce the theme “Semper Vigilantes” in many forms (Semper Vigilantes Page ) The more who do will  providing high quality products and spin off products at low, competitive prices everyone can afford.  Our mission is to write material that will help us not forget “why” so many died to protect our county today and in the future.  We are in the "vigilance business."  We sell the "need" to maintain vigilance.  We use words to get our point across.

Q. How Do I Get An Armband?

Take the design to any local vendor and have him or her produce it.  We also strongly encourage individuals to make their own armbands as my wife and I did.   There is something extremely personal about constructing your own armband.  It creates a sense of ownership and pride different from one that is “store bought.”   But we also recognize that not everyone has the time or resources to construct their own.  Therefore we offer our design freely to the world.

Q. What If I’m From Another Country?

We suggest citizens of other nations wear an armband or symbol of Semper Vigilantes.  Especially since so many foreign nationals died in the holocaust of September 11.  It truly was a "global" assault, not just one on America.

To nationalize the Semper Vigilantes armband, simply replace the American Flag with your country’s unifying symbol.  The Latin is timeless--Semper Vigilantes--so it should remain.  The words: “Unified, In Death And Life! can be translated into any common language. 

We encourage all countries to support “Semper Vigilantes."  Terrorism knows no borders. We invite our readers to download the “Open Letter To National Leaders” (currently under construction) and either rewrite or send a copy to your President, Prime Minister, or Chief of State. Also, we urge you to forward copies to local government representatives.  If you believe the more aware a community and nation is about the need for vigilance, then the most important political forums are your local governing officials, mayors, council people, representatives.  We have included a sample "Letters Of Vigilance" for them you can either copy directly, or, revise to your own personal taste.   Winston Churchill said it best:  "Stand For Something Or Be Nothing!"

Also, send copies of the press releases we have included to local newspapers and magazines in your area.  A free press is ethically responsible in every nation to preserve freedom.   It is the Fourth Estate, designed to provide a check and balance system between the people’s Voice and government’s intrusion upon that Voice.   If you can get the media to respond, you can further the principles of Semper Vigilantes.  (Open Letter To Media:

Q. If You’re Not Selling Armbands, What Are You Selling?

If we are selling anything it is the “Principle of Vigilance.”  Our products are words, thoughts, opinions.   Terrorism uses violence as its messenger, but its message is always the same--"Fear Me!".  We use knowledge as our combat sword.   The more informed an individual is, a family is, a community and a nation is, the less likely they are to fall victim to Terrorism’s many forms of fear-- complacency, confusion, intimidation.  We hope to help Americans face the Truth that Terrorism is here to stay, and if we believe in the idea of "Expect The Unexpected," Terrorism will not cripple us.   If, however, we "Expect To Get Rid Of Terrorism," then we will live in constant fear of its return.  And, it will return.

We are selling Truths as we see them.  The biggest Truth we offer is the need to battle Complacency.  To assume we can rebuild America as it was is a pipe dream.  We must sew into the fabric of Old Glory the same kind of defense we are printing in our money--a sliver of metallic weave that makes it hard for counterfeiters to terrorize our economy with bogus bucks.  It is time to stitch some mettle into our backbones, and into what we stand for.   The Swiss have it figured out.  Every member of their community is a member of the armed militia.  Everyone has a gun, and they all know how to use it.  If anyone attacks their country, they know they have to fight every man, woman and child to the death to conquer them.   So they veer away from Switzerland.  We must arm ourselves with combat tools to fight Terrorism.   Vigilance is more powerful than a gun or a knife against this enemy. 

The Semper Vigilance armband is your true flak jacket.  It sends a frightening message to the Terrorist who thrives on sneaking up and attacking when you least expect it.   It tells him you expect him.  It tells him you're ready for him.   So he goes and hunts down someone less strong willed, some more weaker "victim" he can terrorize.   Remember, bullies always pick on the weak, the ill-prepared, the arrogant, the invincible.   He knows they'll be most terrorized when they fall.

Q. What Are Your Qualifications As An Authority On Living With Terrorism?

As the editor and chief Combat Correspondent, I have lived with Terrorism all my life, in many different forms.  I’ll review the following:   Terror as a Child, Terror in War, Terror in Business, Terror with Cancer, Terror with the IRS, Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, Terror With Self Defeat, and, the most important, The Terror of Complacency.   I will deal with two kinds of Terror.  The Terror from Within, and the Terror from Without.   Simply put, Terror from Without is the act of violence upon someone or something.  Terror from Within is the constant threat of such violence repeating itself in similar or varied forms.

Terror As A Child:  I grew up in a house of Terror.  My step-father often beat my mother physically and abused her verbally.  I walked on eggshells under the constant shadow and fear of his alcohol-induced attacks not only on her, but on my sister and myself.  Often, I threw myself between my mother and step-father, receiving the blunt of physical Terror.  The Terror wasn’t constant.   It came and went.  There were lulls of peace and the appearance of tranquility,  but Terror’s shadow reigned supreme--lurking, as is its nature, waiting to explode upon the innocent, the helpless.   There was also the Terror of my real father abandoning me, leaving me helpless with someone whom I feared more than respected. During those years, I learned both emotional and physical Terror management.  And, I vowed to never live that way, or allow my children to be victims of such terror.

 Terror In War:  In January 1964, I quit college in my senior year and joined the Unified States Marine Corps to learn to be “a man.”  I was selected to be a U.S. Marine Combat Correspondent in Vietnam and was one of the first to report the war.   I landed in Vietnam in 1965 and left in 1966.   I volunteered for over 100 combat missions where I was both part of receiving the terror of war as well as delivering it.   I learned to walk on both sides of Terrorisms’ razor edge.  

My primary job as a Marine was first to "fight and kill.”  After the smoke cleared, my next priority was "to write about, and glorify the killing."  I was both a warrior and a poet.  I carried a sword in one hand and a pen in the other.   The warrior in me was eager to “kill” the enemy.  But, as the bullet exploded out of the muzzle enroute to its target, the poet in me cried in pain.  Often, I wanted to rush after the lead messenger of death and stop it before it destroyed a human life.  Duty and training ennabled me to stuff the poet.

When I walked amongst the rubble of destruction and saw the innocent Vietnamese women and children dead or wounded by the indiscriminate violence of war, a part of my innocence died.  I knew that deep in my soul the calluses of the warrior could not stave off forever the pain of the poet.  Eventually my humanness cried tears of blood.  I struggle to keep the sword ready and the pen poised.  But the terror lurks, waiting. Always, waiting.  It does push-ups, hoping I'll become complacent, think it's gone away.

Q. Are You Anti-War, Anti-Violence After Vietnam?

No. I recognize the need for the sword as well as the pen.  I believe there should be a balance.   Where one draws the line between  violence and non-violence is very individual.  When it’s one warrior against another, I have no problem.  When the innocent get trapped in the middle, then the pain and Terror of war peaks.

In Vietnam I was part of some semblage of senseless Terror.  Burning villages, torturing prisoners, “free fire zones"--they all corrupted the idea that there were “innocents.”  In my book, The Pain Game, I write heavily about the Beast Of War taking over, blinding the warrior to compassion, turning him into a false God so he can righteously take lives of anyone at anytime without flinching.  After a while, everyone was the enemy if the skin was of a certain color, or the eyes shaped a certain way.   When people said, “the only good gook is a dead gook,” I didn’t cringe. After many deaths, I saw everyone as a target.   That is senseless Terror.  It is as senseless as seeing anyone from the Middle East as an enemy.  But it happens.  We seek revenge to “heal” our sense of injustice.   I did.  When one of our guys was killed, all Vietnamese became the killer.  It became hard to distinguish the enemy from the innocent.

But, I’m not soft about the enemy.  I also believe that when you let your guard down, when you take away people’s guns, when you strip the need for warriors away, and beg for peace while the world is still creating monsters who will kill women, children and anyone in their  way without blinking an eye--you open the door to Terrorism.  Over the past years we have deemphasized the military and denuded our national defense.  While we were doing it, the world was ripping its guts apart in many places.  Terrorism ruled.

A rabid animal cannot be tamed.   If you own a pet and it continually viciously bites children, you have a duty to “put it down.”  While I promote peace, I am not ignorant of the Beast of Terror.   He lurks in many places, and if we advocate “Peace” without “Equal Defense,” we open the door to the Beast of Terror.  We invite him in.   But if we have strong, dedicated sentinels--our Spartans of Thermopylae--and we support them, and monitor them, then we’ll be less likely to see our children and their children suffer the "unexpected.".  We’re less likely to allow a short-term political party to take away the locks that keep the wolves at bay as most recently happened in our prior administration. 

As I mentioned above, “I keep my sword at the ready, and my pen poised.”  I would gladly use my sword to protect my children, and their children, and their children’s children.   Or, anyone's children.  I believe it is my duty, my responsibility to society and the world to protect the innocent.   I shudder when people put down warriors as bad, or try and disarm or emasculate our military.  In their own way, they are Terrorizing the future.  Their thirst for “no military,” or promoting the “evils of the military,” make their children vulnerable to attack, and their neighbor’s children just as vulnerable.   But America is a land of freedom, and while those who debase the military have an individual right to do so, I don’t think they have a collective, national right to impose threats upon the innocent from afar by advocating the elimination of the military.  Yet, that line is thin.  I haven't been able to reduce my warrior nature enough to respect anti-military, anti-war dialogue. I tolerate it.  But I don't accept it.

 As much as I hate the way the Vietnam War ended, and the management of it, I know personally I fought for the freedom of a people.  I was there when villagers risked their life under threat of death by the Viet Cong to cast their vote in the first democratic election in Vietnam's history.  I saw freedom ring.  Not loudly, but it rang.  I was proud that day.  It gave reason to senseless death.

 We lost the war in the short run, but one day Vietnam will stand up and thank us for what we attempted to do, however horribly it was done.  No.  I’m not anti-war, I’m anti-Terrorism.  And I must remember the big battle isn’t against Terrorism without, it is with Terrorism within. 

Q. What Do You Mean, “Terrorism Within and Without?”

Terrorism is insidious.   It takes many forms.  The mother who screams at her child in a playground--”if you don’t do this I’ll break your bones”--creates Terrorism in the child.  (Lost Child Story) Terrorism Within begins the seeds of hate.  Hatred instilled in a child for another country, or ethnic or religious group, can grow into the child growing up and piloting a plane filled with fuel into the Twin Towers or Pentagon.  It can also manifest itself in a disgruntled American filling a van with fertilizer and blowing up a federal building.

Terrorism “without” is the sum of the Terrorism “within.”  It stews and boils and then explodes.   Right now Terrorism “within” is boiling in the veins of many Americans.   A new hatred, a new viciousness is evolving in children, parents, grandparents toward those who destroyed America’s innocence on September 11. "Kill 'em," is being heard as the answer.  "Blow the bastards away," rings down the street.   We forget that violence feeds Terrorism.  And, it falsely sates us into complacency.  If we attack and obliterate the Terrorists, then we can feel "safe" again.   That is the danger.   Violence will only lead to complacency.  It will only be a band aid in the long run.

My critical eyes and ears sense that the Terror without is already slowly fading.  Eventually, unless we do something to keep it alive, it will be replaced with complacency until the next attack.   Even now, as I write this at Ground Zero Plus 15 Days, New York City is returning to “normal.”  People’s thoughts are ebbing away from what happened at the World Trade Center.  They are concerned with their jobs, their bills, when the movies will start releasing their new blockbusters.  I was at Union Square today and saw the maintenance people scraping the candle wax off the ground.   The posters for lost victims are gradually diminishing.  The hope of finding survivors is dim, if not dark.   The Mayor ordered the flags taken off half-mast nearly a week ago.

I wear my Semper Vigilantes armband, hoping someone will ask me what it means.  Only two people have, and one was a street person, and the other a tourist from Atlanta.   I ask myself:  "Where is the awareness of readiness?   Why are people sliding back into "normalcy."   I know the answer.   It's easy.  We've turned the problem over to the government.

While the Terror Without is vanishing, as did the memory and warning of Pearl Harbor, the Terror Within will not go away so quickly.   Locked in the corner of everyone who was there that day is the indelible sights of smoke billowing into the Manhattan sky, the screams of sirens, the grim looks on people’s faces.  The nightmares will continue for a few, but will wane for many.  

Fear of the unknown will haunt us for a long time.  And as we strive to find ways to protect ourselves from Terrorism, we will start to give up certain rights and freedoms to the government we have enjoyed.  We will not be as “free” as we were before, and a new kind of Terror will evolve.   It will be the Terror from within.  We'll wake up one morning and find our freedom to think and act and be whomever we want to be at almost any time and any place is being strangled.  We'll shrug and say:  "Well, if that's what it takes to be safe, okay."   We won't take charge of our future.  We'll give it over to others to manage.   This is the terror within.   It is the helplessness to do anything.   But that's not true.

We must stand vigilant not only to the enemy without--the Terrorists from afar--but also be wary of the enemy within who happen to be ourselves.  Our complacency to fight Terrorism at the individual level, the abdication of the battle  to the government at the national level, leaves a wide breech in the protection of our individual freedoms.  

We must never forget that our government only reacts to Terrorism.   If government were proactive, then the disaster of September 11 might not have occurred.  We allowed government to deemphasize military and defense.  We cut budgets.  We consolidated.  Now, we throw money at the military.  We create a new form of government--Home Security.   Terrorism without can and does create Terrorism within.   We must be Semper Vigilantes to the loss of our freedoms, as well as our lives.  We can do that by simply wearing an armband.  We can make a statement to both the Terrorists without and within America that we, the citizens, are vigilant.   Only then will we be protected from ourselves. 

Q.  What About The Terrorism Of Business? How Does That Apply To Your Qualifications Today?

That’s a tough question for me to answer.  It brings up more pain, or equal pain, as my Vietnam experience.  I’ll ask you to bear with me as I answer it. And I'll try to insure the message of Terrorism rings louder than the sour grapes.

After Vietnam, I chose to put the pen down and get involved in business. I freelanced for a few years, writing various articles for major publications and some romance novels, but marriage and children suggested I should provide “stability” and “security” for my family.  Business wise, I was lucky.   I got involved with a company that had a dream few could imagine possible.  It involved a great marketing battle--only this time the enemy was Big Business.  We were going to revolutionize the structure of small business in America.

 In the early 1970’s the big businesses were getting bigger and the small, cottage industries were growing smaller.   The newly formed company I joined had a goal of franchising 10,000 independently owned “mom and pop” real estate offices that were threatened by the growth of big regional and national corporate companies.  These monolithic corporations such as Sears, Coldwell Banker, Prudential--giants of economic resources--had an insatiable thirst for conquering the helpless in a free market.  They were planning to capture the lion’s market share of real estate sales by taking it away from the “small fry.”  It was “white collar Terrorism” since the little guy had no weapons to fight off the monsters of Wall Street.

   The “big guys” saw the evolution of business on the horizon.  They knew the small fry couldn’t survive in a world of efficiency.  They set their sights on the complacency that ran rampant. Small business owners are proud of what they have done, and fight to retain their independence.  Most of them were complacent to the idea the “Big Were Getting Bigger And The Smaller Were Getting Smaller.”  Small business owners shared a similar attitude that Americans held prior to the Terrorist attack on September 11--that they were “invincible,” stronger than the guys who wanted what they had.   Of course, they were wrong.  But arrogance and complacency tend to ride the same horse to the glue factory.

When I saw the strategy of protecting the small from the large, of putting modern weapons in their hands of the “weak” to combat the growth of the corporate giants, I jumped at the opportunity.  It was like Vietnam. Real estate owners were like oppressed villager who didn’t realize the enemy was going to take everything he had and spit him out when he had eaten him.  I was eager to turn a bunch of David’s into a Goliath.  I threw my heart and soul into the battle for eight exciting years.

I became the first Senior Vice President of Marketing for Century 21 Real Estate. I was naive about business.  I had just turned thirty years old and had the world by the tail.  I thought of myself as franchising’s “combat correspondent.”  My job was to glorify the franchise concept, to rally over 100,000 sales troops to sell 10,000 franchises in ten years, to promote the image of Century 21’s mission both to the public and to the franchisees so they wouldn’t buckle under the pressure of rapid growth.  I took on the "Battle Against Corporate America" with the same fervor I did fighting for "freedom" in Vietnam.  

In eight short years, from 1972 to 1980,  Century 21 grew from 17 real estate offices in Orange County, California,  to more than 7,500 throughout the Unified States and Canada.  Our Century 21 sales force exceeded 100,000. The network of franchised real estate offices generated in today's dollars over $50 billion in gross product sales--more than 10% of all the residential real estate sold in the Unified States. We grew faster and larger than McDonald’s.  We also created a viable template of successful "business format franchising" that allowed countless others in related fields such as accounting, health care, stationery stores, to follow our business model. 

I felt like one of the heroes of American liberation.  I had helped change the face of American business history, and preserved the right to own a business by the average American.   But my moment of glory was terrorized.   Just when I thought I was safe, a bomb exploded under my feet.  My tower of glory collapsed upon me, just as the Twin Towers had done, burying me in its rubble.

Q. How Were You Terrorized By Big Business?

Simply put, I got no medals for my efforts, and no money.

When Century 21 sold for $89 million in 1980, the stock the founder promised me failed to appear. He laughed at me when I reminded him of his promise to “make me well.”

 I was left virtually penniless and hopelessly crushed after the sale.   I felt my heart was ripped out.  It was the same bitter feeling of abandonment I experienced upon  my return from Vietnam when Americans--the people I thought I was fighting for to uphold the right to freedom of an ally--spat at me, called me a “baby killer,” and  turned their backs as though I were a speck of dust.   When all the other senior officers around me at Century 21 got their checks after the sale, I sank into a quagmire of terror and self pity.  My dignity and self worth were insulted.  I knew, and others knew, I had contributed at least one percent of value to the company over the eight years, but I got zero percent.   Not even a thank you.  

 I became the “Knight The King Left Naked On The Battlefield.”  I quit and started to live a life of "internal terrorism"--angry, resentful, full of hate for those who had used me, abused me.  I attempted to file a class action lawsuit with attorney Melvin Belli. I called it “Equity Abuse.”  It focused on the principle of a CEO promising stock but not giving it when the chips were on the table.  I was victim to an act of Emotional Terrorism in my book, but Belli didn’t think so.  So I dropped the case and wallowed in the pain of being “victimized.” The Terror Within grew.

I pleaded with the founder of the company to compensate me so I could fund my children’s education, but instead,  he just put extra locks on the gates to his mansion.  I crawled into the bottom of my own self-imposed pit of Hell and tried to die.  I felt worthless inside.  I had been abandoned again by those I had trusted, believed in, fought for.   It is this “terror within,” this “fear of ourselves and our futures,” that weakens our resolve to stand proud.  It creates complacency. Complacency crippled me for years.

Q. What Did You Do To Recover From Your Emotional Terrorism?

On November 7, 1989, I started a slow, painful recovery from the Terrorism of my soul. Broken, I joined a group of people who had all been terrorized from within as I had.  They helped me see some light at the end of my tunnel of darkness.  I fought the demons daily that tried to ambush my thoughts of pride and dignity.  Gradually, I strengthened my resolve to stand up as a human being once again, void of terror.  It was a slow process.  I stitched the holes in my soul one at a time.   Sometimes the weave holding my tattered self-worth hung only by thin threads, but I was always willing to repair them, ready to believe one day I would be able to look myself in the mirror and not see a “loser.”  The Beast of Terror was still in me, but didn’t have free reign.  I at least had him in a corner.

I realized I had become complacent about life itself--about living.  I had put my self-worth in the hands of others.  I had defined myself by how others saw me, and saw myself as I thought they saw me--a nobody, a loser, a failure.   My Terror Within was the result of having my pride as a human being entrusted to status, money, prestige.  It's similar to turning over the responsibility for the elimination of Terror to the government.  Only instead of having our pride at risk, we have our lives and our dignity as citizens at risk.

 Perhaps, in the long run, I grew out of my pain into a better man.   I don’t know.  I only know the years of suffering made me lose something inside--I distrusted anyone who promised me anything.  And, I grew more isolated, more cold as my pain healed.  The hatred in me sat like a cold piece of coal.

Then more “Terrorism Without” fell in my path--perhaps to test my resolve.  In January 1995 I was stricken with colon cancer.   I went through the terror of preparing to die a painful, horrible death.  But I survived.   I did chemotherapy for a year.  During that time I struggled to renew my desire to live, to find some way to be of service to the world since the mortality tables now put a narrow ceiling on my life span.  Before I died, I wanted to do something to make the struggles worthwhile.  But I didn’t know what, or where, or how.

I enrolled in law school to reinvent myself.  I had always loved law.  I was a great negotiator, speaker, and had a powerful presence.  But could I learn?   I was scared and fearful I couldn't keep up at my age.  I studied twenty hours a day.  And, I was successful in my first year.  My self-confidence  grew.

Unfortunately, terrorism struck again.  This time my wife contracted breast cancer. The problems of the past roared up in our face at the same time.   We were forced to file for bankruptcy, undergo foreclosure and an IRS field audit that was worse than the Inquisition. We lost our beautiful home in Laguna Niguel, our credit rating, our assets--but we were alive.  The loss of health, money, home, and the Internal Revenue Service knocking at your door, adds to the terror of life.  It either cripples your faith or bolsters it. When the smoke cleared, and my wife finished her chemotherapy, we had a long talk about changing our lives--what was left of them.  We chose to leave the paradise of Dana Point, California and move to New York City.  That was eighteen months ago.

Q. How Did Moving To New York City Help You Deal With The Terror Within?

It brought life back to dead dreams.  I started to write again, after years of fumbling around to find my “place in the dwindling sun.”  And, the move brought family together.

In December 1999 the prime reason my wife and I elected to move to New York City was to be near our two daughters and two grandchildren.   We moved from the beautiful paradise of Dana Point, where we overlooked the blue, tranquil Pacific Ocean, with limitless space and ultimate serenity and quiet around us to the noisy cacophony of the East Village.  If Terrorism existed, it made a wide swath around Dana Point.

We located an apartment in the East Village, just a few blocks from where both our daughters lived--an ideal location except for the fifty-nine steps we have to climb.   I struggled to find something I wanted to do.  I was driven to do things I didn't want to do by the need to earn income since our limited resources were draining after years of troubles.  I felt the terror within that I would never find happiness inside. Never feel I had fulfilled my destiny.

My wife took over the role of caring for our two grandchildren while our older daughter attends New York Theological Union Seminary to complete her Masters in Divinity.   She is married with two children, Matt, and Sarah, ages five and three respectively.   Her husband is also of service to the people of New York.  He manages a home for New York's' homeless and marginalized.   Both are peace activists, highly active in protesting the oppression of people all over the world. Our other daughter is single and works in law enforcement, helping to protect her niece and nephew from the “terrors of the streets.”  .I jokingly, but proudly promote I have two daughters in New York City.  One carries the Cross, the other a gun.  They are my yin and yang.

 When I graduated from college with my degree in Journalism in 1968, my professor, Art Wimer (who incidentally and ironically helped form the Marine Corps Combat Correspondents during WWII) told me I would never know how to “really write” unless I lived in New York City.  “When you walk out your door, Cliff, you never know what’s going to happen.  That’s life.  If you want to write, you’ll have to learn that kind of life.”

As I drove a rental truck from California to New York City in December 1999, I kept hearing Art Wimer's words ringing in my ears.."you never know what's going to happen next.."  I loved that thought.  New York would keep me alive, on my toes.

After struggling with some sales jobs for a number of months, I suffered a severe bout of depression.  It was triggered when a young man jumped out of window on 57th Street near 10th Avenue.  He splattered about three feet from me.   I began to see nothing but death to answer the pain in my soul.  What do old warriors do?   What battles can they fight?   I had none left in me, I thought.

I sought professional help--something I had always resisted.  I grew to learn about myself, my past, my terror I held within.  I learned about my Beast of Terror, that eats at me--that feeds on “fear,” and “self-pity,” and “desolation.”   I began to see myself for who I was, not what I thought I had become.  I was bright and full of riches and experiences, and drive and ambition.  I was just beaten down with complacency, resignation.   I had no cause. 

I began to write earnestly about my experiences in Vietnam.  I called my book The Pain Game, and focused its attention not so much on the war, but on the evolution of the “Beast of Terror” within me--not wanting to face the Beast again as I had in Southeast Asia, but found as I wrote about the Terror I faced, I began to come into touch with who I was. 

I realized the futility of trying to publish a book, but started sending it to publishers and agents.   Just as I was about to give up, Penthouse bought part of one of the chapters called, "Body Bag Catholic," about my experience flying on a plane with a frozen body bag that came to life.  I was rejuvenated, and attacked the book with more vigor.  Then came September 11.

Q. Were You At Ground Zero When The Attack Came?

When the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, I rushed down to Ground Zero minutes after it happened.  I witnessed the destruction and horror first-hand of both buildings falling and the insanity and fear of the people. Sept. 11 Diary. I had two missions when I rushed down just after the first plane smashed into the World Trade Center.  One, to see if I could find my daughter who is in law enforcement, and, secondly, to capture the horror so I could report it to the world.  I needed to know I was of value--that my life was more worth living rather than merely existing.  Plus, I had no fear.  I'd been in so much combat, I walked almost fearlessly through the rubble, as though I were invisible, perhaps invincible.

 As I stumbled through the thick dust and rubble from the building’s implosions, offering help to anyone who needed it, I became The New York City Combat Correspondent. In a way, I was baptized into the role by the horror of it all.  I realized at that moment, America was at war.  Terrorism had struck at the heart of the world's greatest, most powerful city.   And it had become my city.  I had adopted New York as my fountain of youth, now, I was going to report to the world from its womb, the stories, the messages, the warnings I knew were necessary for Terrorism to be put down.   And, I felt a kinship for all the people who had died.  They became my brothers and sisters, my mothers and fathers, my sons and daughters.   I felt one with my purpose.

  I sat in the ashes of a desolate street,  my laptop laden with fallout, pounding the keys to capture all the things I had seen so I would not forget the moment, or its impact on history.  I realized at that precise moment in history it was my duty to pick up the pen and not the sword, and drive home points and philosophies and wisdoms to those new to Terrorism.   Since I had lived a life of it, I felt highly qualified to become the New York City Combat Correspondent. 

Q. What Did You Do With The Articles You Wrote?

I took a different angle than other writers might.  I weaved into my stories reflections of a man who had been Terrorized all his life, from childhood, to Vietnam, to Big Business, to Cancer, to the World Trade Center.   I wrote my heart out and delivered my articles daily to the city editor of The New York Times, hoping the paper might find them worthy of publication.

It didn’t.  But it didn’t matter. I was recording my viewpoints. I was delivering  “anti-Terrorism news” I believed would help the victims of those who had died--the mothers, fathers, wives, children, husbands, uncles, aunts, friends.   My purpose was to give value and high honor to the deaths of those buried in the rubble.  I chose to build an historical monument to them, with its foundation bastioned in the  word “vigilance.”  I even wrote a piece on why they should all receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. ((Medal Of Honor Story) I  knew they died for a reason. Everyone dies for a reason if you look for it hard enough. I wanted the Fallen's children and loved ones to have an answer to the “why” of their death, not just the “how” of it.    We are quick to bury the dead, and short on keeping their memories alive beyond the families who suffer the loss.   I wanted to insure they lived for generations in the minds of the world where I believed they should. 

(Note:  the series of articles I wrote for the Times can be viewed under “Diaries,” click here to reach that page.)

I finally got an email from the Times, in which they told me they were deluged with material but liked what I had written.  I appreciated their response.  I decided to launch my own website: http://www.VigilanceVoice.com   Now I can present my message as quickly as I can write, edit, rewrite and upload.  And I’m not constrained by space or editorial slant.

Q. What Makes You Think You Have More To Offer Than The New York Times? 

  I think we’re totally different.   My comments are my opinions.  My words come from my experiences. They’re slanted toward the “Terrorism from Within and Without” theme I believe we all need to take a hard look at.   They are geared at future generations as well as current ones.   I’m not writing “news” as much as recording history.   If anything, I liken myself to a Thomas Paine.  He wrote to forewarn the complacent that Americans had to fight for their freedom.  They couldn’t let government rule them.  Terrorism cannot be handed over to the government to correct, to hunt down, to eliminate.   The new Home Security cabinet post is not a solution, only an aspirin.  My great fear is complacency among the citizens will allow government to terrorize us in ways the World Trade Center disaster will appear minimal when compared with the loss of rights and freedoms. 

Terrorism will be defeated in the homes of Americans, in conjunction with government. But government has an insatiable appetite to consume people’s rights--it always has, it always will.  As Thomas Paine said in The Rights Of Man, we, not government, own our rights. Rights aren't given or taken away, we are born with them.  They come from God.  And only “we” not “government” can dispose of them.  I fear America will forget history's great lessons in these troubled times.  That's why the armband, Semper Vigilantes, is so vital.  It symbolized The Rights Of Man And Woman.   It tells the world we're going to fight as whole nation, not just a part of one.

Terrorism will be thwarted not by killing the evil ones, but by teaching  children to maintain vigilance, to respect and defend freedom, to become Spartans of “peace and prosperity.”   My great fear is--as it was with Thomas Paine--the mass of Americans will abdicate their responsibility to sustain freedom to some government agency.   Eliminating Terrorism, both the terror within and without, must be a collective community battle.  It must be fought in harmony with government, not solely by them.   I don’t think the New York Times is going to champion that point of view daily. But I am, with my last dying breath, which I thought I took on September 11. 

       Q.  Do You Have An Economic Motive?     

      Yes.  Absolutely.  I’m a capitalist not a communist.  I believe in profit.  I believe it is just when it is earned.  And I believe anyone should have the right to be rich or poor or somewhere in between.  Someone once told me there were three ways to make money:  One, steal it.  Two, win it.  Three, earn it.   I prefer the latter approach.

In relation to my web site, I have two plans to generate income from it.  The first is to be paid what I’m worth to my readers.   I ask readers who enjoy my writing to send me what they feel what they read is worth to them. (See Send A Buck!) Example.  Someone reads five or ten articles or essays or viewpoints I’ve written.   He or she likes eight of them, but not two of them.   A value is placed on them, say a dollar an article.  They send me eight dollars.

Another person might read something they think is worth twenty dollars, and they can afford it.  They send that.

In capitalism, the market always sets the price.   Value is based always on perception.   When people see value, feel value, they won’t hesitate to reach into their pocket.   If they don’t see value, they won’t send anything.

If someone sees value, but can’t afford to send anything, that’s okay too.  When they do become economically viable, they can send whatever they can afford.  I’m betting on the value of my writing to bring economic returns.

Anything sent is not a charitable donation.  It’s payment for services rendered.   I think that’s a very fair way for everyone, even though it puts the onus on the reader to pull out a few bucks, stuff them in an envelope, and send them to me.   Cash, checks, money orders--all are nice.   And, it puts the responsibility on me to write things of value--not just for money--but for purpose.  

 Q.  What’s The Second Way You Generate Funds For The Website?

I hope to get some great Corporate Sponsors.   As long as they agree to not seek any editorial control, which I will make clear in writing, I’m willing to entertain such sponsorship.   That would involve a logo on the page or pages--as long as it’s not intrusive--and that the sponsor and I are related somehow in the writing of the diaries.   Example, I do most of my writing at Starbucks in New York City.   I think a relationship with Starbucks would be beneficial to both of us.   I use a Macintosh laptop to compose.  It’s an old one--a PowerBook 140, but it works like a charm.  Apple is another consideration.  At home I have a relatively new HP Pavilion computer.  There’s another potential sponsor.  And, I have an Epson printer--still another.   I buy my supplies both at Staples and Office Depot, a couple more possibilities.   I wear GAP shirts.   I have a Rolex watch I got on my return from Vietnam--it’s been my trusty timepiece for over three and a half decades.  Rolex might consider what I have to say worthy of their funding.  I smoke Winston cigarettes, but I wouldn’t advocate them on my website.  That one I have to put to the side, not because I don’t like them, only because I don’t want to promote the terror of lung cancer.  Warren Buffet’s daughter, Suzie, was my secretary at Century 21.  I would be honored with Hathaway’s endorsement or funding.   Century 21, of course, is my alma mater, but I fear I’ve been expunged from its annals and history books since I’ve never once been given any credit for any of my leadership at its marketing helm.  I use Xerox paper to print my stories, and go on-line through AT&T, a global monolith that should be first in line to quell terrorism’s growth, but may be fearful of incurring its wrath by any alliance that could be construed “anti-terrorist.”  I understand that.  I love Diet Pepsi and take Omnitrition, a food supplement that gives me energy and controls my weight.   Perhaps they might be interested in supporting the site as corporate sponsors.  I shop at K-Mart in the East Village, and use their lavatory when Starbuck’s at Astor Place is broken.  K-Mart is a prime candidate, founded on the “vigilance” of providing Americans with “service and a smile.”

As with my readers, I won’t demand any money from the corporate sponsors--that is, set up some fancy pricing structure with a promise of a great big logo or dominant web positioning if they pay the most.   As with my readers, I will let the corporate sponsors select a price they think is worth the value of what I write.  Some will find more value than others.   I will, of course, reserve the right to accept or reject any sponsor.   But who am I to tell them how much they should pay to be listed on my site.  I’ll let them decide that.

  Then there are foundations and grants.  These offer many sources of revenue to keep the site up and alive.   

Q.  Are You Looking To Get Rich Off This?

Frankly, I’d like to get even first.  I still have debts hanging around my neck from yesterday.   But those haven’t stopped me yet.   And I chip at them, as most people do.   I would like to wake up in the morning and not worry about where the next dollar is coming form--but that is a luxury few people in American have, so why should I be any different.

Personally, I have no desire to be rich.  I had it all once, and it meant nothing.   I earned over $300,000 a year, had a 3,800-square foot lovely home in Kite Hill, Laguna Niguel, California.  I put in a $50,000 swimming pool, drove luxury cars, traveled the world.  And was terribly unhappy, terribly terrorized by my hunger to be accepted and only getting rejected.

Today, security is important, not wealth.  I have two beautiful, successful, committed daughters who provide service to their community and the world.   I have a loving wife who tolerates my many many character defects.   And we have a reasonably nice apartment we have to walk up fifty-nine steps to get to--but its only four blocks away from our grandchildren and daughters.

We’ve learned to live in relative simplicity.  I no longer rest my self-worth on what others think of me, but rather on what I think of myself.  I no longer worry about proving myself.  Cancer, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and fifty-nine steps smashes your ego pretty quickly.

But I do concern myself with my grandchildren.  I find my thoughts and concerns sweeping out to protect their future.  And, my sense of worth today is based on writing messages I feel will provide them--Sarah and Matt--with a safer, sounder future.  And, if I can help fortress their future, I can help a lot of others too.  So I am not forced to compromise my ethics for the dollar.

I write fourteen or more hours a day.  I get up around 4:30 to 5:00 a.m. and stop writing, or editing or formatting about 8:00 to 9:00p.m.  I do this almost seven days a week.  I have little time to use wealth, to hoard it, to manage it.   If I seek wealth of any kind, it is in readership.  It is knowing I have made an impact on people’s lives.   Each time a reader studies what I have written, some of the terror within me drops off my scarred soul, and I breathe a little freer, and sleep a little sounder.

Q.  Who Are Your Readers?

Everyone who cares about their present or future.

Q.  What Is Your Next Step In Getting Your Words Read?

I’d love to do the interview circuit...with Oprah, and all the talk shows.  I’d love to go on and present my armbands to them.  I’d love to see America get behind Semper Vigilantes....and that can happen if the icons of America media like Oprah and others see the value of what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it.   I’d love to see little kids wearing a hat with “Semper Vigilantes” on it....and walking hand-in-hand with their grandparents who are wearing an armband, or a baseball hat with it on too.   I’d love to see the NBA or AFL and NFL, or NHL, or the prima-donna-golfers, find a way to display Semper Vigilantes on uniforms--so our “highly paid Spartans of Sports” might promote the most important issue in our time.

There are nearly 8,000 mayors in America, overseeing communities of 25-40,000 populations.  I would jump for joy if the towns of America adopted Semper Vigilantes as part of their community concern.  

America has over 10 million small businesses.  I’d be overwhelmed if the business owners of America stood behind Semper Vigilantes and displayed its message in their windows, behind the cash register, and wore the armband, a hat, or a pin with the words displayed..."Semper Vigilantes, 09-11-01  Unified, In Death And Life!”

Of course who wouldn’t want the President of the Unified States to salute the theme of Semper Vigilantes.   But I doubt the President and his Cabinet would endorse something that might be politically volatile, especially when “Always Vigilant” includes protecting our freedoms from too many government intrusions.   But that shouldn’t be an obstacle to a bigger viewpoint--that of solidifying America behind one theme--that of Vigilance.  Quite honestly, given a choice between the President’s endorsement and Oprah’s, I’d go with Oprah.  No disrespect to the Chief Executive Officer implied--it’s just that Oprah hits everyone in an apolitical way.  Neither would I turn from any Presidential endorsement.  It would be an honor if it happened.

The next step?   It’s all about writing, editing, rewriting, publishing.   I hope to keep my readers rich in information, and stir them to action.   As I write, I will keep my friend Thomas Paine on one shoulder and my other friend, Winston Churchill on the other.

I try to live by what Churchill said:  “Stand for something or be nothing.”  Today, I stand for something--”Semper Vigilantes.”   I hope to urge my readers, to stick with me long enough to become a member of the “Semper Vigilantes” club.

I want people to wear Semper Vigilantes armbands so they outnumber the Home Security Militia's brown armbands...Then we'll put Terrorism in its proper place....then, we'll be "Unified, In Death And Life."


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