It's the 777th day from Ground Zero, September 11, 2001.
It's a lucky day. It's a day of Vigilance. It's a day to
remind ourselves of our duty to fight the Beast of Terror.
See if it's your lucky day.
29, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 777
Day 777 From Ground
Zero--Terrorism's Unlucky Day
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Oct. 29, 2003--
Terrorism faces an unlucky day today.
It is the 777th day from Ground Zero a
lucky day for Vigilance, an unlucky one for Terrorism.
It is the
777th day from Ground Zero
If Terrorism were a
fat, greedy, money-grubbing slot machine, it would be gutted today.
Its entrails would spill out into the hot sun for the vultures to
feast upon. The birds would sing. Flower buds
would burst into splashing pallets of rainbow beauty.
Mothers would release their worried clutch upon
Fathers would relax their tense grip on the hilt
of the Swords of Vigilance.
777! It would be a day of
rejoicing--if Terrorism were the gaming table, and we all were the
Luck, unfortunately, has little to do with
flowers bloom, we can't give the Beast of Terror the edge
Even when the birds sing and the sun shines and the flowers burst into
magical sheets of color, we can't let up our grip on our children, or
give the Beast of Terror that slight, deadly edge by letting our
fingers go slack on the hilt of the Sword of Vigilance.
reminds us that out of any clear blue beautiful sky can rain the
storms of Terror.
hundred and seventy seven days ago from Ground Zero--I count Ground
Zero as the "Zero Day" and do not include it in the day count...so
those of you measuring the days from September 11, 2001 may think I am
off a day; I start at 0 +1 + 2 +3; I have "frozen" Ground Zero for
historic purposes--includes 67 million heartbeats. These 67
million heartbeats mark the time since the Terrorist attack that
shifted America's attitude away from daily serenity toward the goal of
daily security. The beats drum out the need for Vigilance.
We tend to
forget we live within heartbeats
We tend to
forget we live within heartbeats.
Victims of crimes and tragic incidents
Individuals and families who suffer crisis
in their lives resulting from the unexpected know time from a
different perspective than those of us who have not faced
I remember the day I was diagnosed with
colon cancer as clearly and as frighteningly as I remember watching
the shiny belly of the first Terrorist plane scream overhead, en route
to smash into the Twin Towers and launch the Age of Vigilance.
Many of us have dates, measured down to the
millisecond, etched into our minds and embossed upon our souls as
reminders of our "loss of innocence." On those days, or upon
those instances, something was ripped from us. Part of our being
was shattered. Our souls were cracked. The sun
stopped shining. Dark, ominous clouds descended.
We heard the roar of the Beast of Terror.
We heard the
roar of The Beast of Terror
Its fetid breath washed
upon us, gagging us as the suffocating odor of dung heap might we had
been buried within.
Not too long ago here in New York City a car
careened off the street near Macy's department store and smashed into
a clog of people standing on the corner, killing and maiming a dozen
people. The mothers and fathers of the children who were
crushed that day have not forgotten that date.
They no longer allow any of their loved
ones to stand near corners. Some avoid walking on crowded
My wife and I watch the television
series "Missing," where the FBI hunts down people who have
disappeared. Most of the endings are sad. The
victims are usually dead, killed by their abductors.
Parents and loved ones of such
victims do not forget those radical moments of universal tragedy.
They don't shake off fate's deadly hand and go on as they had before.
They clutch their Swords of Vigilance. They hoist their
Shields of Vigilance. They become Sentinels of Vigilance
by force of circumstance, not volition.
people intentionally die carved a hole in my soul
witnessed the leaping bodies of people falling hundreds of feet to
their death at the World Trade Center 777 days ago, something ripped a
hole in my soul. Watching people intentionally die
rather than being burned to death carves a niche in one's soul--it
scars your vision of life's beauty for you witness death's ugliness,
its insanity, its careless disregard for its victims or its witnesses.
In Vietnam I witnessed many
such deaths. I saw the old and young, the children and mothers,
the grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins lying in twisted masses--both
the living and dead pleading and wailing for the destruction to stop,
for "peace" to replaced by "war," for "Vigilance" to overpower
While I have no specific date
in my mental calculator for those events, I do have an era blocked
out. All warriors who witness and participate in the death
of others can never scrape the blood of the innocent from the windows
of their minds. It creates a fog through which all life is
seen forever in shades of despair and often horrible acceptance that
life and death are nothing more than the tides, coming and going,
taking and giving, with little regard to one another.
It's hard for me to cry over
the loss of human life. I've seen far more than my fair
share of it, and, what I have seen has been ugly, twisted, wasted
life-loss. It's the robbing of the innocent that has
soured the wine of life for me. It is the perennial
knowledge that at any moment a bolt of lightening can spear down and
strike the most worthy, the most innocent of us all without a blink, a
nod that makes me clutch my Sword of Vigilance and keep my Shield of
Vigilance held high against the seemingly peaceful sky.
Terror, I know, can rain down on us
individually or collectively at the whim of the universe.
I elect to
push away Terrorism's attempts to choke the sunlight of life
however, I elect to shove away the gloom and doom of Terrorism's
attempt to choke the sunlight of life. Today is 777 days
from Ground Zero. Here in New York City it is a rainy, overcast
day. It is a day of "gloom" for those who cower in the
shadow of the Beast of Terror.
But, if one is a gambler, and,
ultimately we all are because we are betting that we will be exempt
from life's tragedies, today is a "jackpot day."
Slot machines pay off the big money
when you hit 7-7-7! Throughout history, "seven" is the
lucky number, and three of them, WOW!
To me, I look upon the 777th Day From
Ground Zero as an opportunity to shift my thinking.
I know there are only two kinds of
thoughts--The Vigilant Thought on one end of the spectrum, and the
Terror Thought on the other end.
exist between the poles of Vigilant and Terror Thoughts
exist between these poles of greater or lesser degree.
But, they all end up at one or the other end of the pole--either one
believes that the world is out to get them or the world a place where
we can make our bed--soft or hard--and lie in it.
If I dwell on the Shadow of the
Beast ruling my life, I become paranoid. I may not leave my
apartment. I may build a bomb shelter and live with the
roots and rocks, hiding from the sunlight, the rain, the changing
But, if I live with the
Sentinels of Vigilance I know I must rise up out of the quagmire of
Fear, Intimidation and Complacency and walk with dignity down the road
of life. I must inhale the perfume of Vigilance--its Courage,
Conviction and Right Actions that benefit the Children's Children's
Children, for if I refuse to accept my role as a Parent of Vigilance,
a Grandparent of Vigilance, a Citizen of Vigilance, all the wisdoms I
have learned in life will be flushed down the toilet. I
will feed the Beast the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency he eagerly
absorbs to keep his strength by robbing me of my hope, belief and
commitment to the future.
The average person who has not
faced a first-hand tragedy in his or her life may not understand what
I'm talking about. Unfortunately, tragedy changes a
person's outlook. It creates a mortality to life, a
reminder of how precarious and fragile life is.
We know those
we love can be taken by the snap of a finger
allow us to take stock of our lives--to measure our actions today to
see if they are the most valuable, the most beneficial they can be
because we--those of us who have faced the mortality of life--know
that the heartbeat within us and those we love can be taken by the
snap of a finger.
If we are Vigilant, we do our
best to protect the lives of the innocent.
If we are subjects of the Beast
of Terror, we selfishly retreat within ourselves, pull our shells
around us, and hide from the "outside world" in hopes it will march
For me, it comes down to a simple
question: "What am I doing today to protect the Children's
Children's Children from the Beast of Terror?"
I elect to be a Soldier of Vigilance.
I try my best to enlist as many
others in this Vigilance Corps.
My concern today is to teach my
grandchildren how to handle Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
To do that, I have to be aware that Courage, Conviction and Right
Actions for the benefit of future generations are the keys to
countering the Beast's Shadow.
To live in the sunshine of a 777 Day,
I need to believe that Vigilance is a worthy goal. I need to
believe that any action I take to protect others is far better than no
And, most importantly, I need to
remember that my purpose is not to serve as the sole protector of
anyone, but to teach others how to protect themselves against the
Beast of Terror's claws.
Fear, Intimidation and Complacency
come from within a person. The best I can do as a Sentinel
of Vigilance is to warn the innocent of the Beast's presence, and to
arm them with tools of self-defense. And, to go one step
farther--to remind them that they have duty as a citizen of the world
to pass on the Sword and Shield of Vigilance to another.
Only when we all are unified in a common
belief that Terrorism can be defeated by Vigilance will the Beast
starve. Only when we lay siege to his farming of the crops
of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency will the castle walls of
Courage, Conviction and Right Actions thwart his attempts to crush
It is the 777th Day of Vigilance, not
The Beast of
Terror is on the Most Wanted List and we can fight him
around the world and hear the word "Terrorism" spoken on countless
thousands of lips.... I know that the Beast of
Terror is on the Most Wanted List. Seven-hundred and
seventy-six days ago (September 10, 2001) the Beast of Terror seemed
He is exposed.
Now, that he is in the open, we can fight him.
And that is the lucky part of today.
Today, we need to celebrate not our victory over, but our recognition
of, the Beast of Terror. The more we acknowledge his
part in our life, the freer we can be to live life without being
hobbled to his Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
If you're feeling lucky today, take the Pledge of
You won't regret it, neither will your Children's