Today in History: Harry Truman’s Christmas Greeting
In 1949, President Harry Truman sent Christmas greetings to the nation by radio from his home in Independence, Missouri:
Once more I have come out to Independence to celebrate Christmas with my family. We are back among old friends and neighbors around our own fireside. . . . Since returning home, I have been reading again in our family Bible some of the passages which foretold this night. It was that grand old seer Isaiah who prophesied in the Old Testament the sublime event which found fulfillment almost 2,000 years ago. Just as Isaiah foresaw the coming of Christ, to another battler for the Lord, St. Paul, summed up the law and the prophets in a glorification of love which he exalts even above both faith and hope.
We miss the spirit of Christmas if we consider the Incarnation as an indistinct and doubtful, far-off event unrelated to our present problems. We miss the purport of Christ’s birth if we do not accept it as a living link which joins us together in spirit as children of the ever-living and true God. In love alone—the love of God and the love of man—will be found the solution of all the ills which afflict the world today. Slowly, sometimes painfully, but always with increasing purpose, emerges the great message of Christianity: only with wisdom comes joy, and with greatness comes love.
In the spirit of the Christ Child—as little children with joy in our hearts and peace in our souls—let us, as a nation, dedicate ourselves anew to the love of our fellowmen. In such a dedication we shall find the message of the Child of Bethlehem, the real meaning of Christmas.
American History Parade
1651 - By order Puritan lawmakers in Massachusetts, any colonist caught observing Christmas with feasts or other festivities is fined five shillings.
1776 - George Washington’s army crosses the Delaware River on Christmas night for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey, the next morning.
1830 - In South service Carolina, the Best Friend of Charleston becomes the first U.S. locomotive to begin regularly scheduled passenger service.
1868 - President Andrew Johnson grants an unconditional pardon to all Confederates involved in the Civil War.
1896 - John Philip Sousa completes his most famous march, “Stars and Stripes Forever.”