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Columbia Missourian

Yes, Dear Reader, there is a 'Yes, Virginia' editorial today

By Tom Warhover
December 24, 2009 | 4:51 p.m. CST
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Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
The Missourian's general manager, Dan Potter, read the letter for us, and children were invited to share their Christmas art. The stockings are from the students of Marilyn Andre's second grade class at Lee Elementary.

The front page you see in today’s print Missourian, and the home page of today's Web site, might be the definition of “old news.”

Like, 112 years old.


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In 1897, the New York Sun wrote a response to 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter to the editor, who wanted to know whether there was a Santa Claus.

The reply was a resounding yes.

This is the ninth straight year the Missourian has run the editorial on Christmas Day. For a few years it was on the editorial page. Later it moved out to Page One.


Because there’s nothing else that describes an aspiration for hope and wonder so well.

Because the editorial transcends any particular faith and speaks to all, so far as I can tell.

Because, frankly, most Christmas Eves are slow news days, making most Christmas Day front pages drab, dull things.

Because we need, from time to time, a moment to stop. And smile.

My memory may fail here, but I can’t remember complaints about the past eight Christmas editions.

I hope you enjoy this one as well.