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article imageYes, Virginia, Santa Claus does exist — in all of us

By Karen Graham     Dec 22, 2019 in World
Back in 1897, an 8-year-old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to a newspaper editor to ask a simple question – does Santa Claus really exist? The answer, printed in the New York Sun, is the most famous editorial ever printed.
In July that year, with the encouragement of her father, young Virginia wrote a letter to the New York Sun. The letter was misplaced for months but eventually ended up on the desk of Edward P. Mitchell, the editorial page editor. You probably know about the letter...
DEAR EDITOR: 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?
Virginia O'Hanlon
115 West Ninety-Fifth Street
The original letter sent to the New York Sun.
The original letter sent to the New York Sun.
Virginia O'Hanlon - 1897
Mitchell asked his lead editorial writer Francis P. Church to craft a reply, according to W. Joseph Campbell, who wrote about the letter and editorial in his book, The Year That Defined American Journalism: 1897 and the Clash of Paradigms, according to CBC Canada.
It is said that Church wasn't thrilled with the assignment, but he did write a response. It took him about a day, so he did put a great deal of thought into his reply. His editorial would go on to become the most republished editorial in the history of U.S. journalism.
"Virginia, your little friends are wrong," he wrote. "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."
The following passage would prove to be the most memorable: "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."
Virginia O Hanlon in the 1880s.
Virginia O'Hanlon in the 1880s.
Author unknown
While Mr. Church may not be remembered as the author of the famous editorial, his message has inspiring books, music, even an animated Macy's TV special. According to CBS News "Sunday Morning" with Jane Pauley reports that Virginia O'Hanlon's handwritten note has never left her family. Brock Rogers, her great-grandson, keeps it in a scrapbook.
The legacy of that editorial is alive today
Yes, there is a Santa Claus. He exists within the hearts of the nearly 100 Canadian firefighters helping Australian firefighters battle the horrendous bushfires this holiday season.
Image of Francis Pharcellus Church  writer of the famous  Yes  Virginia  there is a Santa Claus  edi...
Image of Francis Pharcellus Church, writer of the famous "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" editorial. Church died in 1906.
Santa is alive and well with the police departments that take needy children on Christmas shopping trips at the local Walmart, or the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program every year. Santa is also in the hearts of those who lend a helping hand to neighbors in need.
You get the picture, I think. The spirit of that jolly old elf lives within all of us who have love, compassion, and the selflessness to care about and help others.
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