GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 28--I was the last one
to make the 9:30 sailing from Battery Park to the Statue of
Liberty. Security was intense. The line wasn't
very long compared to pre-Nine Eleven days. Since
the Terrorist attacks, the daily traffic on the Circle Line
Ferries has dropped from 18,000-25,000 a day, to less than 7,000--more
than a 60% loss.
An older African-American
played man the National Anthem on his violin, in tune to orchestra music
blaring from Fort Clinton where Old Glory was being hoisted up the
flagpole. Fort Clinton is a national landmark located in Battery Park. It
is adjacent to the dock where the Statue of Liberty Ferry embarks.
Security was the strictest I
have encountered since Nine Eleven. Face recognition scanners took
your picture and flashed it before authorities, searching for semblances
to known Terrorists in their data base. Before entering the metal
detector, you were told to take off your watch, coat and belt, and have
nothing in your pockets.
The day before
I had seen a news broadcast about underwater security based
on information Terrorists were planning to slip ashore with
SCUBA gear to avoid detection. There
was a congenial attitude among the crowd. Everyone moved
along, following orders. I was the last to board
Immediately, I surveyed the
passengers, looking for the Stories of Vigilance. The people
ranged from very old to very young. They were of various skin colors, spoke
many languages and many had children accompanying them.
In fact, there were so many kids of all ages I didn't know where to begin asking:
Why would a parent bring a
child to a known Terrorist target?
I was sure I knew the
answer, but wanted to hear from the parents and the children.
The following picture stories delineate some of the reasons they came, and
what those who chose not to missed.
Here is Jim O'Hare, his wife
Martha, son Sean, 12; and daughters Denise 10 and Rachel 6.
"WE'RE NOT AFRAID--WE'RE AMERICANS!"
Jim ran the Boston
Marathon last year. Despite the warnings and threats, O'Hare
said it was important to "show the kids we're not afraid of Terrorism."
"We're Americans," he boasted. "We could have stayed home but that
would have taught the kids to run and hide when the going gets tough."
I asked Jim's wife, Martha, if any of the children were afraid. "Sean said he
was scared and didn't want to come," she replied, "but that was only because he didn't want to go on the boat."
Sean was standing in front of
me grimacing at his mother's disclosure of "private, family information." I asked Sean if
he was really was scared. "Naw," he replied, "I just
didn't want to go on the boat."
The youngest of their clan, Rachel,
grinned from ear-to-ear. "I'm not afraid of any Terrorist," she
boasted. "I'm not afraid of anything!"
Vigilance critics might be quick to condemn the
O'Hare's for putting their children at risk. They might say a
preferable lesson would have been to put the family's physical
safety first and to avoid any danger of harm--to "play it safe!"
But Jim O'Hare feels the formation
of Emotional Security is just as powerful, if not more so as Physical
Security. "Without risks," he said, "you can never get the
full value out of life."
Jim and I chatted about the lesson
Sean and his daughters were learning. We talked about how
facing a Bully Terrorism threat could impact Sean and girls' characters in years to come.
Jim gave me a great answer.
"When the kids are out on their own, working for
a living, and someone asks them to do something that isn't right or
be fired, will they cower under the threat of losing their job or puff out
their chest and
tell whomever they're not going against their convictions? I hope
they learn character from this journey. Life is about standing
up for what you believe in."
No one knows the impact facing Fear has on a
everyone who has faced it and survived knows he or she has grown from it.
Unfortunately, there are many who chose Intimidation over Conviction.
We hope they will take the Vow of Vigilance, and fight the Terrorism of
Intimidation with Conviction, as the O'Hares did yesterday.
We salute the O'Hares! They are
Parents Of Vigilance
101 VOTES FOR ELKHORN
NEBRASKA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Our Memorial Day Choir Of Vigilance!
2001, the Elkhorn Nebraska High School Band and Choir booked a trip to New
York City. Every four years the school makes a junket to some part
of the country to enrich the students with America's might and history.
On September 11th, the students and parents watched the planes smash into the World Trade
Center on television thousands of miles away. They felt not only the pain of loss of American lives, but also
their journey to New York City, planned four years ago, was in jeopardy.
. Over the ensuing months parents,
teachers and students discussed the options--cancel or go! Each
parent and child was given a vote. According to Linda Brown, mother
of one of the choir members, it wasn't an easy decision. Fear and
Intimidation coursed through their discussions, but so did Courage and
Conviction. No pressure was applied to anyone wanting not to
Then the decision was made.
The kids unanimously agreed to not let Terrorism ruin their lives
or Fear control their decision, or Intimidation drive them from their
destiny. They voted to see the Statue of Liberty and other of the
many rich historic sights in New
They wanted to
see where George Washington was inaugurated. They wanted to pay
their respects and show their support for the victims and families of Nine
They wanted to celebrate and not condescend to America's
history of personal freedom and choice, carved from the blood of those
willing to sacrifice themselves for others.
So they came. All
Not without Fears or Doubts--they had those
they said--but their
Courage and Conviction was at least one percent greater and grander.
They put themselves on the Edge of Vigilance rather in the rut on
The VigilanceVoice salutes Elkhorn High
School as our Memorial Day 2002 " Students Of Vigilance!"
"SAILOR OF VIGILANCE"
WITNESSES TERRORIST ATTACK
Glen Barnett started out working on tug boats two decades ago, and
switched to ferry boats. He's transported millions of passengers to
the Statue of Liberty over the past nearly two decades. The
father of three--one of his sons works another ferry boat--was docked at
the pier in Battery Park when the Terrorist plane smashed into the World
Trade Center. He and others aboard rushed to offer help and
aid to the victims.
I asked him what he thought about people
avoiding the trip to the Statue of Liberty. "People can't be
afraid and should fight Terrorism," he said. "My advice is simple:
Don't be intimidated! Don't be afraid. That's what they
want. They want to scare us into Complacency. They'll
keep it up the more scared we get."
Barnett was discouraged about the public
fear of coming to New York City, and especially to the Statue of Liberty.
"We average between 17,000 to 25,000 people a day from Battery Park and
New Jersey," he said. "We'll be lucky to do 7,000 today. It's
been that way ever since Nine Eleven."
He said one tour company that booked 50,000
visitors a year hasn't sent a tour to Liberty Island since September 11.
"It's the kids who lose," he said. "A child who looks up at that
Statue Of Liberty and sees how powerful she is, never forgets America's
roots. I miss the kids. I miss the look of awe in their eyes.
I miss them seeing America standing proud," he said.
As he showed me the pictures he had taken
at Ground Zero, I recalled my own experience that day. He was
in the thick of it, soot and ash covering him from head to foot, working
with the firemen, police, helping people.
On my way to the Brooklyn Bridge to walk
over its great span, I glanced back at the ferry's taking only the most
brave, the most courageous to Liberty and Ellis Island. Above,
I thought I could hear the cheers of the Sentinels of Vigilance, urging
those who came despite the fear of Terrorism to go tell everyone what they
But from Brooklyn, where the city
allowed the cancellation of its celebration of their world famous bridge, I
only heard snoring.
We salute Glen Barnett--"Sailor Of
Go To: MAY
27 "Memorial Day-Into The Jaws Of Terrorism"
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