“Christmas 1945” – The first Christmas after a long national struggle

On December 24, 1945, the Shenandoah Evening Herald was filled with stories Christmas in a suddenly peaceful world. Back home in the States, the Herald told of World War II veterans who were still serving abroad and those who were trapped by transportation jams across the United States. They told of a peace-time Christmas in the Coal Region for the first time since 1940.

Political Cartoon - Christmas 1945
Christmas political cartoon from the Evening Herald, December 24, 1945

In summing up the world as it stood on Christmas Eve 1945, the editors of this journalistic institution of northern Schuylkill County took up the pen and wrote a moving editorial about the meaning of the holiday at the end of a long, bloody conflict that saw America and its allies defeat the forces of fascism and tyranny across the globe.

This is an editorial is worth your time, 75 years after it was written.


How much more meaning for most of us is contained in the customary greeting, “Merry Christmas,” this year than twelve months ago! How fortunate we Americans are this year! It might be well to reflect upon this for a passing moment because we are, indeed, a lucky nation.

Unlike last year, we are not worried about any crucial battles. Our land is at peace and so is the greater part of the world this year. Fighting is going on only at several isolated points on the globe and they are mere skirmishes.

But there is plenty of misery throughout the world, particularly in Europe. There is intense suffering there. Oppression exists in more than one country. We talk of shortages of this and that but stop for a minute and think of the acute dearth of things necessary to life that exist at this very minute in many other countries.

Yes, this land has been blessed and we should show our thanks to the All High for making this possible. “Peace on earth, good will to men” really has a meaning this year for the first time in some years, and we sincerely trust nothing will come up during 1946 to change the picture.

 There are many families right in our own area, of course, to whom Christmas will not mean much this year. There are empty chairs that will never be filled. The battles of last year took their toll of many a gallant lad from this section. There are families who have lost loved ones within the past several days and there is sickness in other homes to detract from the usual spirit of the Yuletide. All of these things go with life. To those folks, we hope next Christmas will be better. But, on the whole, most of us will greet tomorrow with more happiness and less worry than we have since December 7, 1941.

 There will be real joy in the families with veterans back in civilian life once more. There will be children overjoyed with their fathers home again. Thoughts of this make us feel good, although our hearts go out to the veterans still in lands of occupation; particularly to those stranded due to transportation difficulties, only a few hundred miles from home. So to all concerned we extend the annual greeting, “A Merry Christmas to all,” and offer the timely reminder that we should remember the full significance of tomorrow, the birthday of Our Saviour, and what it stands for.

Featured Image: A US Marine at home with his family at Christmas 1945 (United States Marine Corps) 

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