Halloween is mostly concerned with made-up horrors—a time to celebrate “safe” scares. However, a CNN article I stumbled across served as a stark reminder that, sometimes, real-life horror intrudes on even the most innocent of occasions.
In 2013, CNN detailed the story of a letter found in a package of fake tombstones purchased by an Oregon family in 2011. The letter was purportedly from an inmate in a Chinese labor camp who wrote it, and others, at great personal risk. He would sneak them into the packaging of decorations bound for the United States, hoping someone would find it, believe it, and alert humanitarian organizations about his and his fellow prisoners’ plight. The letter details the harsh conditions endured by prisoners forced to make everything from shirts to holiday decor, and it serves as a sobering reminder of how much we here in the U.S. often take for granted.
CNN followed up on the letter, eventually tracking down the writer and even visiting the site of the labor camp in question. It’s fascinating reading, and should make us all feel grateful that we can treat horror as a form of entertainment when, for so many people, true horror is a way of life.
Blu Gilliand is the managing editor of Cemetery Dance Magazine and Cemetery Dance Online.