Editor’s 1897 message of hope still stands the test of time

BY THOMAS C. WARDEN Publisher/Editor Emeritus

Note: The editorial page format is somewhat altered this week so The Republican staff can present these traditional Christmas stories and editorial comments.

Francis B. Church, editor of the New York Sun in 1897, printed his re-ply to a little girl’s question, “Is there a Santa Claus?” And “Yes, Vir-gin-ia, there is a Santa Claus!” was born. 

It has gained literary immor-tali-ty because the message is as fresh and relevant today as it was a 119 years ago when he wrote it.

“In all this world,” wrote Church, “there is nothing else as real and abiding” as Christmas. He was referring to a tradition of love and caring — the em-bodiment of Santa Claus — that em-braces the spirit of the occa-sion…a cel-e-bration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the one individual in the history of ci-vilization who has done more than any other to al-ter, guide and influence human affairs and conduct.

As in years past, these are not the best of times for the nation. Our resolve is still being tested in the Mideast and in other areas of conflict. Men and women in the armed forces are still on foreign shores during this most solemn observance. On the domestic front we are governed by new administrations which are still being tested — both at the state and national levels.

Christmas, perhaps, could not ar-rive at a better time, for it is an oc-ca-sion that unites the nation and so-lidifies and strengthens the bonds that have made America, despite shortcomings and occasional distractions, the most advanced nation in record-ed human history. Still, we should not forget that millions of our people are homeless, millions are without adequate medical care, and millions are without decent jobs. 

Heart disease, cancer and other terrible afflictions menace our people — young and old alike — and as a nation we must renew our dedication to finding cures that are available to everyone, rich or poor, young or old. Rays of hope, nevertheless, shine through the dark clouds, and we should not overlook the good things that take place. Locally, we have a school district that is dedicated to educating our young people; Operation Christmas has again been successful; our police and fire protection and ambulance services are high quality agencies. 

Good news reminds us that indeed we have ample reason to be thankful when we sit down for a Christmas meal and thank our Creator for the bounty we enjoy.

Much re-mains to be done before we can lay claim to being a truly benevolent people. Still, we must hope and pray that the spirit of Christmas prepares each of us for the challenges of a new millennium.

In spite of those cynics whose materialistic world denies such beliefs, there is indeed a Santa Claus…and it is in this realization that the staff of The Republican  wishes our readers and advertisers a “Merry Christmas!”