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Qspective: Horror is real this time

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David J. Glenn

I’ve always enjoyed Halloween.

As a kid, I looked forward to going trick-or-treating as my usual ghost. As I got older, I liked going to Halloween costuime parties. Then, when I became a parent, I enjoyed trick-or-treating again, this time with my son.

But as it did so many other aspects of daily life, Sept. 11 changed all that.

How can we celebrate ficticious monsters, when real-life human demons perpetrated an evil rivaling anything Dracula or Frankenstein could have come up with?

We all like dressing up as ghouls, going to haunted houses and seeing frightening movies only because we know none of it is real. When evil crosses over from imagination to reality, it’s no longer fun.

I think I’m having a similar reaction to what my summer-camp counselor had in the 1960s when the Vietnam war was raging.

We were in the middle of Color War, that time near the end of the season when the camp is divided into, in our case, the Blue and the White teams, and we’d compete in everything from morning inspection to baseball.

I never got into the spirit all that much, but most of my camp-mates as well as the counselors, including the one I remember, became almost obsessed with it.

But one late August afternoon, the counselor got a letter from a friend his own age who was in Vietnam. It occurred to him — here he was getting all worked up over whether his Blue team got enough points in volleyball to pull ahead of the White team, while his friend was dealing with real bullets in a real war.

It quickly put things in perspective.

Now it’s almost like we’re all in Vietnam. The farthest thing from the minds of the mothers and fathers and sons and daughters who went to work at the World Trade Center Tuesday morning, Sept. 11 was that they would be blown up by religious fanatics.

Now for us, wondering whether a bomb will go off in the mall, in the subway, in the stadium, in the street, has become a first thought.

If only we could be afraid of just ghosts and goblins again.

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