Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

[friday]

December 21, 2012

Lindsay's column: 12.23.12 >> Dear Virginia

I’ve always been fascinated with the editorial reply of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” As a little one awestruck by St. Nick, the reply gave me butterflies of excitement as my imagination illustrated the toys under the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. As a growing child dabbling in doubt, it was poetic reassurance. As an adult, I see it as words written by someone who truly lived all the parts of life: The beautiful parts and the painful parts. The combined parts of life that developed a soul’s ability to create a connection with a child so deep it changed the course of her life, and in turn, changed ours. Even if just for a moment as the sounds and smells of Christmas morning harmonize with the words Francis Pharcellus Church wrote more than a century ago.

It takes a special soul capable of understanding the importance of talking with a child and not talking to a child. Church didn’t just understand that importance, he valued it. Church was able to craft an answer in 1897 that rose above the clichés and the confines of child-like vocabulary to answer with his heart. He ultimately told a tale of truth to Virginia O’Hanlon so profound we find ourselves gripping our newspapers every Christmas morning to not just read the words he wrote, but feel them.

Virginia — the daughter to Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, a coroner’s assistant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side — lived a life far before the convenience of Google and long before you could ask Siri if Santa Claus was real, and aren’t we all glad she did.

Church’s answer filled Virginia’s heart and birthed the inspiration to chase and achieve a dream most women hadn’t ever seen, even through their sleeping eyes. Virginia said Church’s words were the sole inspiration for her decision to become a school teacher for New York City in 1912. Virginia earned a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate before becoming a principal in 1935. It was a career and educational resume unlikely for a woman at that time. However, because of Church, Virginia believed she could be what no one else had seen:

“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They do not believe except what 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,” Church said in history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial.

Church was not just telling of the spirit that lives in all of us — if we allow it — but his writing foreshadowed the legacy Virginia would continue from his beautifully-crafted words: Don’t let your mind stop at what it sees.

Ironically, Church didn’t see pictures of falling snow drizzling city streets or the image of innocence in children caroling. Church, a former war correspondent during the American Civil War, regularly saw and wrote about a reality the spirit of Santa couldn’t touch: He saw images of suffering, he witnessed tales without any triumph and he was far removed from the type of innocence only found in the Virginias of the world. But, despite the harsh images of a cruel reality in his mind, he crafted a whimsical world of reality that was truthful to its core and sewn together with threads of hope for the Virginias.

Last Friday we witnessed, with tear-filled eyes and throbbing hearts, a picture no parent should be forced to see. We cried for the 20 Virginias this planet lost. We felt weak at the realization they were taken before they too had the chance to slip Church’s words in their back pockets before setting afoot on the travels of their lives.

These words are for the Virginias.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
[friday]
  • Ziliak, Lindsey 11-7-13 The legacy Tom left A couple of delighted kids squealed as they chased a ball across the lawn at Trinity United Methodist Church Thursday morning, their mother keeping careful watch as she waited in a line that snaked around the block. Hundreds of mothers, fathers and g

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • LNS - KT041414 - Michael Kelsey - LMZ The 'Cirque du Soleil on acoustic guitar' Anything can happen at a Michael Kelsey show. He might play music from some random object he spies in the room. He may ask for audience participation. “You never know what to expect,” said Gary Rhum, who owns Rhum Academy of Music. Only one thing is

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Editor's picks 1) Easter at Conner Prairie Celebrate Easter with a scrumptious breakfast, cookie decorating and a visit and photo opportunity with the Easter Bunny at Conner Prairie Saturday Morning. After that, pet the rabbits, learn Peep science, hunt Easter eggs

    April 18, 2014

  • This week's Best Bets 1) Think Spring Celebrate the slightly-warmer Spring-ish weather at the Kokomo Farmers' Market downtown. Saturday marks the grand opening for 2014. Head out to the corner of Mulberry and Washington streets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is a total sensory

    April 18, 2014

  • LNS - KT041114 - Editor's Pick - PIC Editor's picks 1) Listen to a legend Legendary basketball coach Bob Knight will present a lecture at 7:30 tonight at the Honeywell Center in Wabash highlighting his coaching career from start to present day. He’ll discuss life and career events, his mentors and st

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - kokomospeedway 02 Kokomo Speedway opens tonight After a long winter, area race fans are itching to get out to the tracks. “They just want to hear motors running,” said Brett Bowman who announces races at Kokomo Speedway. Well wait no longer, race fans. Kokomo Speedway opens tonight with the Kokomo

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • This week's best bets 1) Watch the races Kokomo Speedway opens this weekend, so have a beer and watch the races or catch up with old friends in the stands during the Kokomo Grand Prix tonight and Saturday. General admission tickets are $20 and pit passes cost $35. 2) A sa

    April 11, 2014

  • Ziliak, Lindsey 11-7-13 No fairy-tale prom for me I’m not like most girls. In high school, I played in the dirt for fun. I spent many weekends donning overalls and judging soil inside a pit dug in the middle of a field. On most school nights, I was holed up in our high school newspaper office writin

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blush 04 Out & About Tweens, teens, moms and grandmas last weekend learned how to love their bodies the way God created them to be during Blush's Image event. Model and author Rachel Lee Carter spoke from her personal experience on image. Rachel shared her struggles with

    April 4, 2014 4 Photos

  • Ziliak, Lindsey 11-7-13 Lessons learned raising money I took pies to the face, begged my family and friends and tested my baking skills to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association last month and still came up short. Lesson of the week: Asking for money is hard to do, even when it’s for charity

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller