Is Santa a veteran?


I first asked this question because this Friday is Veteran’s Day, which is a national U.S. holiday, and this Friday, Santa Claus is coming to town. I first speculated that Santa had an affiliation with the United States Air Force, but soon realized there was no air flight until 1903 by Wilbur and Orville Wright. Therefore, I assumed Santa simply wanted to offer his gratitude to the men and women veterans of the Versailles Vets Club. He would not be Santa Claus if he took for granted the very things that deserve his gratitude (and ours too).

Everyone knows Santa and Santa knows everyone and what we owe our veterans. But even if we don’t know the veterans by name or face, we should make our presence and gratitude known for we owe them much. Perhaps Santa will indulge in a bowl of bean soup, with cornbread, etc., but even if he begs off the carbs, you can and should partake. The veterans have the spirit of giving throughout the year and the bean soup is a gift of love to the community of Versailles.

I think Santa was, at a minimum, an honorary religious Navy veteran. Here is what I uncovered as I followed the history.

Although it is impossible to research Santa Claus with, the library, or any forms of legal documents we know his baptismal name was Nicholas and he was a bishop in the fourth century. Nicholas was buried in a sarcophagus at a church in Maya, Greece. Maya was a maritime city in (ancient Greece or) Asia Minor. In 1087 a group of Greek Orthodox merchant seamen took part of the skeletal remains of Bishop Nicholas from his resting place and fled to protect the bones from Muslim sacrilege during the Seljuq dynasty. The remains were then enshrined in the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, in Bari, Italy.

Some of the smaller bones remained in the sarcophagus at the church in Maya, Greece, but during the First Crusade Venetian sailors took the remaining fragments to Venice where they built a church to St. Nicholas in Venice upon their return. Scientific investigations of the bones in Bari and Venice revealed they were of the same skeleton, which is how both Italian cities can claim the relics of St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas is primarily considered the patron saint for sailors. Sailors around the world wish one another good luck by saying, “May St. Nicholas hold the tiller. St. Nicholas is also considered the saint of children and both Amsterdam and Moscow.

We know our present-day Santa Claus goes by many names (Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Saint Nick) but is derived from the legendary character of St. Nicholas and celebrated around the world.

Now that we can assume Santa is a veteran of the high seas, this can be one reason why Santa arrives so early. I mean it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. While it is true Santa usually did not make an appearance until December or at least until Thanksgiving was over, life has changed greatly. Like everything else, things change. In our day, the personal decorations and gifts weren’t elaborate, overpriced, or unnecessary. When we were kids, Christmas was about the only time we received gifts, that was when we got the bicycle, wagon, baseball mitt, roller skates, or a baby doll. As a result, we really looked forward to Christmas with anticipation. I bet it doesn’t take much for you to rekindle your childhood excitement when thinking of those Christmases. Isn’t that awesome!

Christmas may be about the birth of Jesus Christ made man, born in poverty and deigned to be crucified by those he desired to save. But in the 21st century both parents are working, earning higher wages, and often living above their means or in eternal debt. It is only natural that each generation wants better for their children. But define better, is it a tad bit or an extreme measurement?

It is the consumer that drives the market and that is why you see the Christmas season earlier and longer each year. Consider this, if you had a hall or party room available to rent would you turn a person down for wanting to hold their Christmas party in October or November? As the saying goes the customer is always right. And as a former business owner I can tell you our employee Christmas Party was held in January, after the hectic days of Christmas decorating and shopping were over.

Finally, during my quest to find out if Santa was a veteran, I found myself pondering another question. Which is, “How is it that Santa’s reindeer powered a sleigh that could fly but the Wright Brothers didn’t accomplish such genius until 1903?” I discovered Santa was first reported flying in 1823 when the poem “The Night Before Christmas” was printed in the Sentinel newspaper in Troy, New York. Since I don’t understand invisible science like electric, radio waves, and magnetic polarization I can tell you but I cannot explain it. So here it is, Santa can use the magnetic field of the North Pole against the South Pole to take flight and propel the sleigh forward. Evidently when the sleigh’s magnetic field is high, Santa and the sleigh can fly higher and faster. And when the strength of the sleigh’s magnetic field is decreased, the sleigh flies lower and slows down. (Full disclosure: I still don’t understand, but perhaps you do.)

“America without her soldiers would be Freedom without the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance.” ~C. Edwards

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” —G.K. Chesterton

“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus! There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.” ~Francis P. Church


Friday, Nov. 11, 4–7 p.m., the Versailles Vets Club will be holding their bean soup dinner in honor of Veterans Day. The Veterans enjoy making a meal and serving the public. They will accept free will offerings. Veterans Day is when Americans honor all living military veterans. So come out and thank our local veterans.

Friday, Nov. 11, 6–9 p.m., is the Versailles Hometown Christmas Celebration. The downtown stores will be open for your shopping convenience, there will be food vendors, hot chocolate, cookies, entertainment by school groups, with a light ceremony at 7 p.m. in the fountain square. Santa arrives soon after with carriage rides throughout downtown.

Saturday, Nov. 12, 8:30–11 a.m., there will be Breakfast with Santa at the Versailles Eagles. Donation only for an “all you can eat” meal of breakfast sausages, scrambled eggs, silver dollar pancakes, applesauce, chocolate milk, orange juice and coffee.

Also Saturday, Nov. 12, 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m., St. Teresa Catholic Church in Covington (located at 6925 W. US Route 36) is holding their annual Christmas Bazaar. With lots of baked goodies. As well as the Darke County Single’s Dance from 8–11 p.m. sponsored by and held at the Greenville VFW (219 N. Ohio Street). Music by “Hearts of Fire.” Doors open at 6 p.m. with a $7 cover charge.

Sunday, Nov. 13, 2–6 p.m., Karaoke at the Ansonia American Legion. The kitchen will be open during Karaoke.

Sunday, Nov. 13, Fried Chicken Dinner starting at 4 p.m. by the Versailles American Legion Auxiliary at the Versailles Vets Club. Dine in, carry out or drive thru. Call ahead orders can be made as early as 3 p.m. by calling 937-526-5959.

Monday, Nov. 14, 1–3:30 p.m., Memory Lane Dance held at the Greenville VFW. Music by Tom Everhart. Open to the public $5 admission at the door.

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 9–10:30 a.m., (Widow/Widowers) Breakfast at the Wooden Spoon.

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 4–8 p.m., Deep Fried Chicken at Creekside Drive N Go. Call ahead at (937) 526-4038. Dine in or carry out.

Friday, Nov. 18, 5–7 p.m., Jen’s Burritos at the Ansonia American Legion. Carry out available.

Happy birthday wishes to Marcy Roll, Suzie Keihl, Robin Meinerding, Judith York, Missy Voisard, Tricia Monnin Carson, Sundra Bey, Jefferis H. Livingston, Lynn Langston, Corrie Jennings, Karen Kelch, Tammy O’Reilly, Levi Francis, Becky Chrisman, Hala Knapke, Debra Pohl, Jim McCutcheon, Shila Magoto, Monica Knapke, Benjamin Bey, Treva Siegel, Nina Barga, Matt Heitkamp, Joe Herandez, Marcia Davidson, Katrina Hoening, Denise Ruhenkamp, Etha Gehret, Sheree Kremer, Barb Marshal, Angie Francis, Toni Schafer, Lois Wollenhaupt, Margie Heitkamp, Carroll Bertke, Scott Monnin, Jon Werling, Wanda Laughman, Maleah Bulcher, Nancy (Tom) Subler, Joan Ruschau, Rose Lucas, Steve Winner, Kevin Bohman, Janet Anderson, Kim Condon, Keith Hartzell, Candy Stump, Henry Uhlenhake, Diane Elsas, Fr. Jim Simons, Dee Stahl, Lauren Meinke, Shorty Keller, Carmen Kingrey, Gene Epperly, Dusty Francis, and Uncle John Magoto as their birthdays approach as well as, anniversary wishes to Caitlin and Tom McNeilan (10), Lori and Jason Hemmelgarn (10), Kelly and Kevin Luthman, Donna and Allen Francis (25), Lisa and Joe Rush (25), Holly and Nick Keiser (28), Missy and Brad Francis (32), Shirley and D. Johns (??), Sue Ann and Joe Knapke (41), Kim and Randy Condon (44), Dee and Brian Monnin (44), Sheila and Jerry Barhorst (50), Mary Jo and Ken Voisard (55), Mary Jean and Paul Meyer (57), and all those couples celebrating anniversaries this week.

Please keep in your prayers all those who have passed, including those whose anniversary of their passing nears. Please give your prayers of comfort and healing for the sick and suffering, for those who struggle, the caregivers and those who mourn the loss of their loved ones.

As an act of kindness, thank the businesses in Versailles for the Hometown Christmas Celebration and for their dedication to the town. Without them we would truly be a ghost town. And thank the veterans who conducted themselves with duty and honor for our country. Let them be an example of how to live your life, to respect the beliefs and freedom of us all.

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