Story Synopsis: "No Terror In Halloween Parade For
Parents of Vigilance." Terrorism is challenged at NYC
children's Halloween Parade. Parents of Vigilance surround
children, warning the Beast of Terror he isn't welcome.
Children are witnesses of World Trade Center attack, in East Village of
New York City. They learn the "dead" are still
alive--as Spirits of Vigilance. The Spirits help offer them more
Courage than Fear, more Conviction than Intimidation, and Right Action.
Friday--November 1, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 415
No Terror In Halloween
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, Nov. 1 --Terrorism didn't have a chance last night during the
East Village annual "Parents of Vigilance" Halloween parade.
Hundreds of parents and children donned
masks and costumes and assembled in front of the local red-bricked school
in the heart of the East Village last night, and, with police escort, we
wended our way up 2nd Avenue to Tompkins Park where salsa music and conga
lines greeted parents, kids and family in a display of community vigilance
known to those who live in the madding crunch of concrete big city life.
Baby Beluga Whale
I had never marched in the parade before.
My wife was fully costumed, as were our three grandchildren--Matt as the
Rescue Hero Rip Rockefeller, Sarah as Cinderella, and baby Angus had his
homemade marvelously magical Baby Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus
leucas) costume to keep him warm on the crisp last day of October.
It was a debarkation from last year, when the
smoldering remains of the World Trade Center still perfumed the air with
the pungent smell of burning flesh, and the gagging ash thick with the
musk of the Beast of Terror.
It had been over thirteen months since the
children of the East Village had their lives uprooted by life's cruel
reality that some stranger from another land could swoop down from the sky
and kill their friends fathers, mothers, grandparents, uncles, aunts,
cousins. I remember Matt telling his parents that they
should invite some of the children over to their house for Christmas to
share toys and joy, because they didn't have a "Mommy," or a "Daddy," and
they were probably, "sad."
I remember little Sarah's story of tears when the
candle altar in the nail shop window she went to see each day after school
stopped displaying the candles and returned to normal. She teared up, sad that the memorial had vanished, as though in her childish
heart the flames of the flickering candle held hope that all would be well
again for those whose lives had been Terrorized by Nine Eleven.
Last night was also the Eve of the Day of the Dead.
The East Village has a dominant Hispanic culture, and
is rich in respect for it heritage. Mixed in with the more
urban Halloween decor, were flags and banners and skeletons celebrating
the Day of the Dead, a two-day event that occurs on first and second days
On the Day
of the Dead/Día de los Muertos, the dead join the living in a festival
which originated in the prehispanic past. The original celebration
can be traced to the festivities held during the
Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, ritually presided by the goddess
Mictecacihuatl ("Lady of the Dead"), and dedicated to children and the
The ninth and tenth months
of the year on the ancient Aztec calendar were dedicated to the dead.
After the Spanish conquest, priests attempted to Christianize the
celebration by moving it to correspond with All Saints’ Day (Día de Todos
Santos). Consequently, the modern festival occurs on the first two days of
November and combines elements of both Aztec and Christian custom.
Observance of this holiday
varies from town to town, and is most traditional in areas of southern
Mexico where Indian influence is strongest. Customary observance of Día de
los Muertos is likely to include:
making of altares (altars) filled with
ofrendas (offerings) such as fruits, flowers, incense, candles, hot
chocolate, pan de muertos (bread of the dead), as well as photographs
of the dead and some of their favorite food
--feasting, visiting, gifting
--cleaning and decorating family graves
--eating and keeping company with the dead in the
liked the Day of the Dead. It was a reinforcement that the
Sentinels of Vigilance live in the minds of the Vigilant. And, most
importantly, it connects the children to the spirits of those who have
passed from earthly life. It reminds them they are "protected"
for children in New York City who were witnesses to the tragedy of Nine
Eleven it had a special meaning, as it must for any child who has lost a
loved one--a grandparent, parent, uncle or aunt--to know that their
spirits are near them, within reach.
As a "child
of Terror," I know the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency of feeling
alone, separated, abandoned from any "protection." It is a
frightening feeling to feel such inner loneliness.
When I saw the
skeletons being paraded, I understood what they meant. For me, they
were the Sentinels of Vigilance, reminders that the thousands lost on
September 11 had been found, that they were as alive as we wished to
believe they were.
I thought of the
cycle between life and death, and how the Day of the Dead was about
keeping it alive, respecting the spirits of the departed, honoring them
with food and gifts and fiestas where families and friends brought their
memories back to earth.
I was glad my
grandchildren could experience these feelings, and see how the many
cultures of the world kept in touch with the Spirits of Vigilance in their
own ways. I wanted them to always know there were other forces
watching over them, helping them have more Courage than Fear, guiding them
to seek more Conviction than Intimidation, and urging them to take Right
Action rather than crumble into a pile of Complacency and powerlessness
over situations and events that might oppress their Vigilant wills.
The Day of the Dead
became for me, The Day of the Sentinels of Vigilance.
parade, we walked up and down the streets of the East Village.
Instead of knocking on people's doors, the children rush into the delis,
pharmacies, stationary stores and alcove restaurants lining the streets to
trick or treat. It is a far cry from the suburban trick and
treating our children did in Laguna Niguel, California, but the effect is
the same--a bright orange plastic pumpkin full of candy.
Most importantly was the
community of children. All the kids in the neighborhood seemed
to know one another, and most of the parents also. It is a
rare moment in a highly urban city like New York to see such a gathering
of parents and children, all bound as one family community unit out to
protect their children.
I took scads of pictures
of the kids going into the stores getting their plastic pumpkins filled
with booty from the night. Then we went to our daughter's and
son-in-law's apartment where they went through the candy to double check
its safety before letting the kids have their "special pieces," the
limited ones they were allowed. Matt, naturally picked the
On the way home, we
walked slowly in the night. A few children were still
scurrying in and out of the local storefronts, gleefully gathering
I looked up
into the clear blue-black night, stars shining and moon illuminated.
I could see
the skeletons of the Sentinels of Vigilance, all aglitter, decorated
with flowers and colorful ribbons, dancing in the sky, reminding
us all to both respect the living and dead, for they are one,
all here to protect the children from the Beast of Terror--who,
last night, was driven from the East Village by the Parents
and Spirits of Vigilance.
Oct 31--CIA's Halloween Terrorist Report
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