Church, who had no children, picked up a letter to the editor one day in September 1897.
“Dear Editor,” it read. “I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”
It was signed, “Virginia O’Hanlon.”
Church, who had been a war correspondent during the Civil War, sat down to write a reply in an editorial.
The newspaper thought so little of the piece that it ran it as the seventh editorial in the Sept. 21 edition — more than three months before Christmas.
But the words Church wrote struck a chord with Americans.
And nobody remembers what those other, supposedly more important, editorials said that day.
The Sun folded in 1950, but Church’s editorial is still being read today.
Here it is:
“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to have men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest men, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love,
See Virginia/Page B6
romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
“No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
In Owensboro, the Goodfellows Club, founded 19 years after Church wrote those words, is again trying to bring Santa Claus to the needy children of the community.
Donations can be made to Goodfellows Club, Messenger-Inquirer, Box 1480, Owensboro, KY 42302, by bringing contributions to the newspaper office at 1401 Frederica St. or online at goodfellowsclubofowensboro.org/contribute/.
Dec. 15, 2017 Roll Call
Previously reported … $94,439.93
In loving memory of our grandson,
Thomas Brooks Yager by Linda and
Al Yager … $500
In memory of Stanley and Fern
Bellamy, Mikey, Butch and Marty by
Lois … $500
In honor of Joe and Mary Jane Clark
and in memory of Urban and Mary
Strobel by Kathy and Denny … $500
In memory of Pat and Dot Berry by
Joanne and Rodney Berry … $400
In memory of Kimberly Ann Davis,
Ernie Davis, Sr., Martine Davis,
Butler Turner, Mary Turner, Linda
Jones, Larry Turner, Roger Turner
and Ricky Laws … $300
In honor of our family and friends by
Jerry and KoKo Morris … $250
In honor of Dr. and Mrs. William A.
McManus by their children … $250
In loving memory of our parents, John
and Mary Jacobi, and Leonard and
Bernice Worth … $200
In honor of our grandkids, Abie,
Maverick, Sam, Ethan, and Jacob … $200
In loving memory of my son, Eric
Whitfield by Ann Ferguson … $200
In memory of Rachel Atherton and
Mary Lydia Greenwell by the After 5
Homemakers … $126
In loving memory of R.J. and
Christine Hunter, Pete Foster and
David R. Hunter … $100
In honor and celebration of Anna,
Beau, Jesse, Mills, Roselie and Sam
by Great Aunt and Uncle … $100
In loving memory of Dennis Mattingly
by the Ackerman family … $100
In loving memory of Tom Lockhart,
Aaron and Ray Watkins by Sonya
and Tony Lockhart … $100
In memory of Rachel Atherton by the
Help Office lunch bunch … $80
1957 DCHS Luncheon Girls … $75
Jubilee Homemakers … $70
In honor of Gary Sisk by the
Office Equipment Company staff … $70
In memory of Velma Nelson by Sue
Trautwein … $50
In memory of Lisa Evans by Allen
McManus … $50
Anonymous … $33
In memory of my husband, George S.
Wilson III and our daughter, Jennifer
Wilson Pund by Marian Wilson … $25
In memory of friends, Sarah Baker,
Marilyn Holder, Carolyn Massie,
Ann L. Miller, and Frances Paine Tapp
by Marian Wilson … $25
In memory of Donna Calhoun by
Tom Calhoun … $25
In memory of Curt Calhoun by Tom
Calhoun … $25
In loving memory of Susan Davis
Nichols by Francy Miller … $25
In memory of Joseph Hillary and
Dorothy Boone … $20
In memory of Lawrence and Rose
Mary Stogner, Ronnie Baird, and Eric
Hamilton by Edward Stogner … $20
David Morris … $10
Total as of Dec. 15 … $98,868.93