ON THE EDGE

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Project Manager

by Carl Pritchard, Pritchard Management Associates


(Ripped off from the Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897)

I am 38 years old. Some of my co-workers say there are no real Project Managers. My boss says, "If you see it on ProjectConnections.com, it's so." Please tell me the truth, are there real project managers?

Virginia Noh


Virginia, your co-workers are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they have seen happen in their organizations in the past. They think that nothing can be which has not been done in the organization for years and years past. All minds, Virginia, whether they be management's or team members', may be limited by their experience. In this great universe of ours, a single team member or stakeholder is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there are real project managers.

They exist as certainly as plans and hope and strategies exist, and you know that they abound and give to your organization its greatest achievements and joys. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no project managers! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no faith in deadlines, no objectives, no clear specifications and budgets to make possible the lofty dreams of humankind. We should have no vision, except in sense and sight. The structures, plans and designs that take human vision from empty pits to inspiring skyscrapers would be extinguished.

Not believe in project managers! You might as well not believe in status reports. You might get your team to review every Gantt and network diagram to find evidence that the project managers aren't authentic, but even if you found an errant application of a tool, what would that prove? Few ever see the project manager doing their most important work, but that is no sign that there are no real project managers. The most real work in the world includes those things that neither management nor team members can see. Did you ever see a project manager coaching someone to help them grow in the organization? Did you ever see them agonize over a team member's personal loss? Probably not, but that's no proof that they are not working. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the effort and strains there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering our projects that hides the hours of coordination, planning and consternation that go behind every inch of forward progress. It is not by Monte Carlo or Microsoft Project® that such efforts move forward. Faith in team members, nurturing of management and appreciation for the customer all unite to push aside the curtain of misunderstanding and incomprehension to view the beauty and glory of a better future. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world few things else are as real and abiding.

No project managers? Thank PMI they continue to find new ways to add value to our organizations and our day-to-day lives. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, the fruits of their labors will continue to brighten the path to our futures.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!




Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

(Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897)

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

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. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!



The following is commonly attributed to The People's Almanac.

Francis P. Church's editorial, "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" was an immediate sensation, and became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897, almost a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O'Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

"Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn't any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

"It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, 'If you see it in the The Sun, it's so,' and that settled the matter.

" 'Well, I'm just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,' I said to father.

"He said, 'Go ahead, Virginia. I'm sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does.' "

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents' favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, "Endeavour to clear your mind of cant." When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl's letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

"Is there a Santa Claus?" the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply which was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in April 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O'Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master's from Columbia, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator. Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.








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