Ken Plum: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus


kenplum2The editorial in the September 21, 1897 New York Sun, responding to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon who had inquired about whether there was a Santa Claus, has become the most reprinted newspaper editorial, according to the Newseum. Virginia’s father had told her that if she read it in the Sun it was certain to be true. The editor wrote, “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.”

Virginians, especially those around the capital city, have long believed in Santa Claus. The “Legendary Santa” has been meeting with boys and girls at Miller & Rhoads–first a department store and now a hotel in Richmond–for more than 75 years. There is ample proof that he is the “real” Santa Claus for he is able with assistance from the Snow Queen and some technology to call every child by name. We go with our grandchildren to see him at his latest location at the Children’s Museum of Richmond. Read more about this Virginia tradition in Legendary Santa’s Stories from the Chair (Children’s Museum of Richmond, 2011, www.c-mor.org/santa/book). On page six is a photograph of young Jane Durham (now Plum) and her brother visiting Santa many years ago.

Throughout the capitol there is a quickened pace of activity during the holiday season in anticipation of the General Assembly convening on January 13. There are wish lists from all the agencies and special interests. And, yes, Commonwealth, if there is a Santa Claus here is my wish list for the legislative session, essentially duplicating my list from the last several years.

Virginia should extend health insurance to nearly half its uninsured working poor by expanding Medicaid. Not only would more people have access to preventative care as well as treatment, but Virginians would get more of their federal tax dollars back and a boost to the economy with the health care jobs being created.

While I am wishing, I want the General Assembly to expand background checks for all gun purchases to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and violent people. Just this past week I attended a vigil on the third anniversary of the massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the second highest such shooting after Virginia Tech in 2007, and yet commonsense gun safety laws have not been enacted. I also want the legislature to approve my bill to establish an independent redistricting commission that will fairly and objectively draw legislative boundaries. We would on my wish list outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. And while we are at it, we need to get the state back to the position of being an equal partner in funding public schools.

None of these goals will be reached by simply wishing for them. Hard work, determination, and public pressure can make them reality. Just like in Santa’s workshop, there needs to be a lot of work done behind the scenes. Could this be the year I get what I want?

Ken Plum is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.



uva basketball team of destiny

Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Subscribe

Augusta Free Press content is available for free, as it has been since 2002, save for a disastrous one-month experiment at putting some content behind a pay wall back in 2009. (We won’t ever try that again. Almost killed us!) That said, it’s free to read, but it still costs us money to produce. The site is updated several times a day, every day, 365 days a year, 366 days on the leap year. (Stuff still happens on Christmas Day, is what we’re saying there.) AFP does well in drawing advertisers, but who couldn’t use an additional source of revenue? From time to time, readers ask us how they can support us, and we usually say, keep reading. Now we’re saying, you can drop us a few bucks, if you’re so inclined.

 


augusta free press
augusta free press
augusta free press news