Article Overview:   Is there a Santa?  Is there a Beast of Terror.  Yes Virginia, There are both!  A hundred and six years ago Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the New York Sun asking:  "Is There A Santa?"   Today, three generations later, the question is:  "Is there a Beast of Terror?"  Here's the answer.


Tuesday--December 9, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 818
Yes, Virginia...There Is A Beast Of Terror!
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Dec. 9, 2003-- Yes, Virginia, there is a Beast of Terror.  
       He has one purpose, Virginia.  It is to bully you into a state of Fear, to Intimidate you into thinking you are less than you really are, and to make you want to run and hide and turn your face away from him in a state of Complacency.
       A bully, Virginia.  That's what the Beast of Terror is all about.  He shoves and jostles your belief in good, hoping you will see only the bad in yourself and others.
       But, Virginia, the Beast of Terror can be banished from your mind, your home, your neighborhood and the world.
       He can be chased away by the Sentinel of Vigilance who replaces your Fear with Courage, exchanges Conviction for Intimidation, and helps you stand up to the Beast with Right Actions rather than hide from them in a shell of Complacency.

It has been 106 years since Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter asking  "Is there a Santa?"

       It has been 106 years since your great, great, great grandmother, Virginia O'Hanlon, wrote a letter to the New York Sun when she was eight years old and asked:  "Is there a Santa?"   That year was 1897.   
      Back then, the Beast of Terror existed too, Virginia.   He stole his way into people's minds and made them skeptical of many good things.  He turned people against other people, and often shouted to young children:  "There is no Santa."  He loves turning someone against himself or herself, Virginia.  He loves to make people think less of themselves and all good things.
      Back in 1897, New York Sun editorial writer Francis P. Church picked up his pen and wrote your great, great, great granny a beautiful response.  I've reprinted it below so you can see what he said.  It is known today as, "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa!"
       Mr. Church was a bit angry when he wrote the response, Virginia.   He was mad at people who are called "skeptics"--people who seem bent on destroying beliefs in that which cannot be seen or heard.  Those people still exist, Virginia.   People today call them "Terrorists."
       Terrorism is not just about what everyone sees and hears, Virginia.  When a bomb explodes and people die, or when planes crash into buildings, we all cry over such pain and suffering, over the waste of life.  It is easy to call such violent acts, Terrorism.
       Another more insidious form of Terrorism, Virginia, is Emotional Terrorism.   It is delivered in very unkind ways, like when people say mean things to others, or laugh at them because they look different or talk different, or make fun of others because of the color of their skin or what they believe or don't believe in.   People who tell children there is no Santa are Emotional Terrorists, Virginia.  They are seek to destroy belief and faith and joy and kindness in the minds of the innocent.  They want to torture and cripple Hope and Joy, and blow up Happiness that belongs to the children and their Children's Children's Children.
       But there is hope, Virginia.  It is comes in the form of the Sentinels of Vigilance.   In many ways, these Sentinels are Santa's reindeer.  Belief in them is  like the belief in Santa--it is not something we can reach out and touch, feel or smell.
       Vigilance is about the belief in a world whose prime mission is to protect the children from all harm, physical and emotional.  It is about everyone's willingness--mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins-- to banish the Beast of Terrorism from threatening the safety and security of a child's belief systems.   This includes all the children of the world, and their Children's Children's Children.
       Virginia, when I was at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and I saw the terrible Terrorist attack and the buildings fall, I sat down and began to cry.   I was very sad, as you and so many others were that day.
       For many, Santa died that day.   The belief in our security and safety--the gift of liberty and democracy--seemed to go up in smoke and ash.  For a moment, I felt that way too.

On Nine Eleven as I sat in the ashes and wrote on my computer I saw the Spirits of Vigilance arise

       But as I sat and wrote on my computer about what I felt, Virginia, I saw something very powerful unfold before my eyes.   Out of the ash and smoke rose the Spirits of Vigilance.  
       They were the Mothers and Fathers of Vigilance, the Grandparents of Vigilance, the Uncles and Aunts of Vigilance, the Cousins, Brothers and Sisters, Loved Ones and Citizens of Vigilance.
       They were from all nations, all lands.  They were of many different colors, sizes and shapes.  They spoke different languages.  Some were very rich and others very poor.  They believed in different religions and practiced a wide variety of customs from their lands.   But, Virginia, they all had one great and powerful job.
       They were all Sentinels of Vigilance.  
       They vowed as one body to battle the Beast of Terror, to guard the safety of the Children's Children's Children from Fear, Intimidation and Complacency by giving gifts of Courage, Conviction and Right Action to all threatened by the Beast of Terror.
       My tears of sadness transformed to tears of joy when I heard the vow.
       For a brief moment, Virginia, I had stopped believing in Santa.   The tragedy caused by the Beast of Terror crushed my heart.    In the ghastly stillness of the aftermath, I felt alone, empty.
       But as I watched the Sentinels of Vigilance rise above Ground Zero, their hands and fingers intertwined like a Gordian Knot, my disbelief in the joy and happiness of life returned.  I wasn't lost any longer.  I wasn't alone any more.
       The Sentinels reminded me how easy it was to fall victim to Terrorism's goal of crippling our belief in the world's goodness.   My heart pounded as I watched them holding hands--rich and poor; brown, yellow and white; educated and uneducated; fat and thin; tall and short.   I stood at attention as I heard them chorus a Pledge of Vigilance to protect the Children's Children's Children from Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
        I will never forget that moment, Virginia.   It was the dawn of my own Vigilance, a reminder to me that Santa and all beliefs in the good and kindness of human purpose cannot be destroyed by the skeptics, the Terrorists of Belief.

They each held up the Sword of Vigilance

       As the Sentinels of Vigilance came together in that circle above Ground Zero on Nine Eleven, I remember they formed one body.  It was the  sum of a man and woman, a mother and father, a grandfather and grandmother, an uncle and aunt, and all the loved ones of all the children who have ever been, are, or will ever be.  
     In one hand they held up a Sword of Vigilance and in the other a wreath of peace and prosperity adorned with the faces of children throughout the world.
        Their eyes scanned the horizon, searching for signs of the Beast of Terror whose mission is to threaten the security of the Children's Children's Children.   They did not sleep.   They did not blink.
         I realized that day, Virginia, that our belief in what we cannot see and hear and feel is sometimes fragile.  We often suffer from our disbelief in ourselves as well as others. When someone tells us there isn't a Santa, or that we're not smart enough, or tall enough, or rich enough, or good enough, or pretty enough, it hurts.  It wounds.  
         We forget that people who try to hurt other people are speaking with the tongue of the Beast of Terror.  The Beast  will try and twist our thoughts and make us think we are something less than who and what we really are.  The Beast will try to destroy our beliefs in ourselves, others and Santa.
        Terrorism, remember, is about striking Fear, Intimidation and Complacency into people's hearts and minds.   
        It's about bullying us into believing there is no Santa, that good can't win over bad, that right never has a chance against wrong, that no matter what we do we just can't win so why try.
        This isn't true, Virginia. 
         The Beast of Terror uses our Fear, Intimidation and Complacency as a grindstone.   He tries to dull our Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for future generations, Virginia, just as surely as he tried to destroy your great, great, great grandmother's belief in Santa more than a hundred years ago.
        And, Virginia, he will try to do the same to your children, and your Children's Children's Children unless you stop him now, as your great, great, great grandmother did three generations ago.

In 1912, after earning her Master's degree from Columbia University, Virginia began teaching in the New York City school system and  retired after 47 years as an educator.  She died in 1971, at the age of 81.

     You can do this, Virginia, by  becoming a Sentinel of Vigilance.   You, your friends, your parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and loved ones can protect yourselves from the Beast of Terror.
        You can become a Child of Vigilance and encourage your friends and relatives to become a Parent of Vigilance, a Grandparent of Vigilance, a Citizen of Vigilance, a Loved One of Vigilance.
        The Pledge of Vigilance is your vow to fight Fear with Courage, to battle Intimidation with Conviction, and to take the Right Actions that benefit the Children's Children's Children rather than fall victim to Complacency and inaction

Virginia, the belief of Santa and the belief in Vigilance begins with you

      The Beast of Terror wants us all to think, Virginia, that someone else will fight him.  He wants us to think we are too small and insignificant to drive him away by ourselves.  But that's not true at all, Virginia.
        As the belief in Santa begins with you, Virginia, so does the belief in Vigilance.   If in your heart you believe in the overall good of people, and that people-- despite the few who act like bullies and abuse others-- want the best for their children and their Children's Children's Children, then you are ready to become a Sentinel of Vigilance.
        It is your belief in the future, Virginia, that will shine through the darkness of Fear, the storms of Intimidation and the foggy days of Complacency.  You can't wait for others to act, just as your great, great, great grandmother didn't wait to write a letter.  She took the Right Action and forced an answer that has shined on the hearts of millions who may have doubted Santa's reality.   She was a Sentinel of Vigilance.
        Yes, it is easy to think you are too small, too young, too few to make a difference in this world.  But that is what the Beast of Terror wants.  He wants you to become Complacent, Virginia.  He wants you to give up your natural right to be free of Emotional Terrorism.  He wants you to not believe.

Don't let the Beast steal your Santa, Virginia - then or now!

      But, Virginia, you know better.  You know deep down that you can change your thoughts when the Beast of Terror tries to make you feel sad, empty, not as good as, not as worthy as others.    Thoughts that make you feel badly, Virginia, are attacks by the Beast of Terror.   They are the acts of a bully within us that can be stopped, just as your great, great, great grandmother stopped the thought that Santa wasn't real.
       When the Beast attacks your thoughts, Virginia,  take a deep breath and call upon the Sentinels of Vigilance.  Ask them  for the Courage to conquer Fear, the Conviction to stand up to Intimidation, and the power of believe in the future of all children rather than fall victim to Complacency.
     Santa dies in people's minds when they stop trying to believe, Virginia.   And when they stop believing, the Beast of Terror wins and grows stronger than ever..
       Don't let the Beast steal your Santa, Virginia.   Or any other child's.
       Take the Pledge of Vigilance in your heart and know the Sentinels of Vigilance are guarding you and all the children of all time from the Beast of Terror.

  1897 Response by New York Sun Frank Church to Virginia's Question:  Is There A Santa?

       Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a sceptical age. 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.
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 hire 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 man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal 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.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

Dec. 8--The Price Of Vigilance In Iraq:  60 Cents A Day!

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