President John F. Kennedy saved Christmas for one little girl in 1961
1961 was a tumultuous year for President John F. Kennedy.
In October of that year, President Kennedy, father of 4-year-old Caroline and his infant son John-John, took the time to reassure young Michelle Rochon of Marine City, Michigan. Michelle had written to the President explaining that she was worried about the Russians bombing the North Pole and taking out Santa Claus.
“I was glad to get your letter about trying to stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole,” wrote JFK, “and risking the life of Santa Claus.
“I share your concern about the atmospheric testing of the Soviet Union, not only for the North Pole but for countries throughout the world; not only for Santa Claus but for people throughout the world.”
The President went on to reassure the little girl that all would be well. “…You must not worry about Santa Claus. I talked with him yesterday and he is fine. He will be making his rounds again this Christmas.—Sincerely, John Kennedy.”
But President Kennedy did a lot more for that little girl than reassure her. On August 5, 1963, he signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which banned the use of nuclear testing in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space.
With apologies to a certain young girl named Virginia, Kennedy had basically said, “Yes, Michelle, there is a Santa Claus and there will always be one for you and all children of the world. Bet on it.”
It had been a bad year. April brought the disastrous Bay of Pigs fiasco. June brought the equally disastrous summit meeting with Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. And to top it all off, on August 13, 1961, the East Germans built a wall between East and West Berlin. The Cold War was beginning to heat up.
At this time in history, American children were told that if there was a nuclear blast they would be safe if they just got under their school desks. A little prayer might also help.
Adults often fail to realize how warmongering affects children psychologically. Back in 1961, it was the Russians—funny, some things never change—versus the Americans. At least back then, everyone knew who the bad guys were.
Dermot McEvoy is the author of the "The 13th Apostle: A Novel of Michael Collins and the Irish Uprising" and "Our Lady of Greenwich Village," both now available in paperback, Kindle and Audio from Skyhorse Publishing. He may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com.
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*Originally published in 2016.