May 24, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 255
Symbol of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 24-- "The Thinker"
sits solemnly, back arched, head down, mouth and chin resting
on his knuckles, doing what "thinkers" do best--thinking.
According to art critics,
his thoughts are not common. They ponder the role
of humanity, its good and bad, its moral and immoral side, its
Heaven and Hell or of Vigilance versus Terrorism.
On September 11, 2001,
" The Thinker" was displayed on the 105th floor of
North Tower at the World Trade Center when Flight 11 slammed
structure, converting it into a fiery Hell of destruction.
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was obsessed with bringing to life
Dante's vision of Hell. Among his many works, he carved
and molded the "Gates of Hell," expressing its ravages
in tormented figures such as the "The Three Shades." His
work on "The Thinker" was designed as a crown piece
for the "Gates of Hell."
a bond trading company, used "The Thinker" as the
company symbol until a few years ago. In its plush lobby
on the 105th floor, the company displayed many of Rodin's most
famous works, including "The Thinker." Had it
not been for the loss of 658 of Cantor-Fitzgerald's 960 employees,
the loss of "The Thinker" and other Rodin treasures
might have been disquieting. But human sorrow cast
a shadow on the loss of great art. That is, until
now, when the New York Post revealed "The Thinker"
was not crushed or destroyed, but instead, alive and well--in
the hands of a possible thief.
It seems an incredible
The Rodin sculpture
fell nearly a quarter of a mile into a heap of debris that claimed
at least 2,800 lives and countless other precious art pieces
that anointed other prestigious lobbies within the world's icon
of financial power.
Many consider the fact
"The Thinker" was unscathed during the holocaust is
a miracle, but no one denies its whereabouts are a mystery.
According to the New York
Post, someone stole the rare 28-inch statue that symbolizes
man's quest to use his mind to resolve the great questions of
Authorities questioned a fireman
who found the intact piece and had his picture taken with the
surviving statue. The fireman claims he put it in a recovery
station and it disappeared from there. Investigations
The story of the "The
Thinker" hits close to home for me personally. In
the early 80's I was the acting President of the first franchise
for Certified Public Accountants, Accountants Network of America
(ANA). My partners, Steve Kriegsman and Dean Ader, and
I visited a stock broker in Los Angeles to raise capital for
We discussed his investment
in our program over lunch. During the conversation, he
offered us a tour of his boss's art collection.
He led us up a flight of stairs into a suite of offices that
had been gutted to house a massive collection of Rodin's precious
works. There were no security
guards, no laser beams, no guard dogs--only a locked door.
The room had no special lighting. It was littered with crates
and boxes and pieces of Rodin's most famous art. The pieces
sat quietly in the dim light, impervious to my eyes that feasted
on their presence.
I was shocked at the expanse
of the private collection, and yet privately amused as I sauntered
between the crowded pieces of precious art, touching them at
will, lifting some pieces up to examine the craftsmanship.
The room could have been the collection of a man who amassed
toy trains. There was no pomp or circumstance, no pedestals
and spotlights igniting the majesty of Rodin's carving,
just soft light filtering in through dirty windows creating
a sense of quietly throbbing reverence to anyone who knew
the power of Rodin's work.
The stockbroker told us that
the owner (whose name I cannot recall because of
the wear of time on my gray matter) had recognized the power
of Rodin's work
when others denied him credit as a master. Rodin's
harsh artistic representation of the state of man received dull
reviews by the critics initially, and enraged Rodin as he
struggled for recognition. His art was bold and
challenging at the time, laced with outer realization of man's
struggles and contorted with his psychological insight into
The stockbroker's boss
had purchased many of Rodin's pieces during that lull between
Rodin's rise to power as a great sculptor. The collection
included some of the original moulds used to cast Rodin's famous
pieces. I stared at the Gates of Hell, (18x24
below--note "The Thinker" in the middle),
one of Rodin's most famous works, wishing I could spend a couple
of weeks in the room just bathing in the selfish privacy of
being near such a master of
Unfortunately, I never revisited
the collection We were busy raising 7.8 million dollars to launch
our operation, and the chase for funds shoved
Rodin out of my mind until I read the May
20th article in the New York Times my older daughter
had cut out for me. She remembered my exhalations
over seeing the private collection years before and thought
I might find some interest in the missing "Thinker"
story. She was right.
I believe Rodin's
"Thinker" was left unscathed as a symbol of Vigilance.
The statue can be viewed from two vistas; from one side of the
coin the figure can be pondering the burden of mankind, contemplating
the toils of human frailty and the onerous job of struggling
through life's existence, or, one can see in the "Thinker"
humankinds' resolve, its ability to chose right over wrong,
Vigilance over Terrorism, Courage over Fear, Conviction in place
of Intimidation, Right Action versus Complacency.
I chose to view "The
Thinker" as an expression of human potential rather than
a concession of its flaws.
A Vigilant person is not one who takes his or her
job lightly. "The Thinker" certainly doesn't.
Even more important to
me is the symbolism behind the "Thinkers" ability
to survive Nine Eleven. On September 11, I watched the
buildings collapse at Ground Zero, witnessed people leaping
from the buildings, heard the cries of mortal pain and felt
the Hand of Death on my shoulder. I also recorded
the aftermath of "The Gates Of Hell" event that carved
Terrorism into the hearts of all Americans, and told the world
that no one was safe from its ability to kill and maim, and
bring Hell to any and all who thought they were exempt.
As I sat in the ashes of destruction,
my body covered with soot, typing on my laptop to paint a portrait
of the event with words so that I might never forget what
had happened or why, I was sure I saw the Spirits of Vigilance
rising up from the ashes of destruction where the World Trade
Center had once been.
Amidst the soot and ash
and screaming sirens and fleeing people, I felt the power of
the souls of those who had been sacrificed that day rising upwards,
commingling with one another to form a Statue of Vigilance in
the ghastly void billowing with smoke and fire ignited by Warriors
I didn't want to think or believe
that those countless thousands who had died that day were mere
victims of a holocaust, but rather chose to believe they had
sacrificed their lives as a symbol to future generations, that
we must never again become Complacent against the threats of
Terrorism--both of the Physical and Emotional nature.
Out of the rubble I saw one of
Rodin's most powerful art forms rise. He called
it "The Hand of God," and made it sprout out of the
crust of nothing into the flourishing world of Hope.
I saw the Sentinels of Vigilance
being born that day, cupped in the Hand of God, rising out of
the quagmire of human confusion, reaching upwards, grasping,
holding Hope for the future of mankind and womankind to live
in a Terrorless world, free of Fear, unshackled by Intimidation,
and void of Complacency.
Perhaps at the time I wasn't
so keen on the exact nature of the vision as I am today, but
I know there was the birth of Vigilance, and that it was cupped
in the Hand of God, as Rodin had so deftly carved his message
of human Hope in the 19th Century.
And, it was "The Thinker"
who set into motion the choice between living in a world of
Terrorism or in one of Vigilance. For "The
Thinker" was the prompt, the engine of contemplation that
reminded all humanity it had to make tough choices for its future
security. It had to chose Courage over Fear, Conviction
rather than Intimidation, and to take Right Action rather than
sink into the bog of human Complacency.
Above the World Trade Center
stands the statue of the Sentinels of Vigilance. They
look out to the East, West, South, North, peering at the horizon
for evidence of Terrorism, one hand on their sword's hilt, the
other holding up the Wreath of Peace.
They beckon all who see them to join them in their Vigilance,
to think about the children, and their children's children's
right to live in peace and harmony. They have thought
through their mission.
People have asked me what
I think about the alleged theft of "The
Thinker." I don't pass judgment on that issue.
What interests me more is
that one, it survived, and two, someone recognized its value.
The one who took The Thinker
will be faced with a tremendous burden, a
weight will descend upon his her shoulders to right the wrong
of keeping something for themselves that belongs to the world. It
will force its keeper to return it to its proper place, where
all can see it for what it represents--the choice between being
a Citizen of Vigilance or one of Complacency.
forces us to think through things. We either take
Right Action or not after we have considered the options.
But there is a bigger thief
at large than the one who took "The Thinker."
That thief is Complacency. It tells us we can turn
the control of our destiny and safety over to the government.
It tells us we don't have to worry or work on fighting Terrorism
in our homes, in our minds, in our children, in our society.
It tells us there are more important priorities we seek, food,
Thinker" smashes that thought. It reminds us
that our job is to insure our existence on this earth in the
most peaceful, harmonious way possible. And that means
we must decide to fight Terrorism with Vigilance.
"The Thinker" radiates the message of taking
the "Right Action."
To me, that
Right Action is to become a Citizen, a Parent, a
Grandparent, a Brother, a Sister, a Mother, a Father, a Loved
One, an Aunt,
an Uncle, or just a "Doer of Vigilance."
about sitting around and letting someone else think for us,
but rather to remind us we are responsible for our own thoughts,
and that this thinking, is the first step in making a choice.
Ultimately, we must chose to fight Terrorism or become its continuous
victims. If we don't think, we stand at the "Gates
If we do think, we stand on the crest of Vigilance, in the "Hand
of God," warding off Terrorism and living happily ever
TO: May 23--Doctor Of Vigilance