Preface: News that Circus Vargas continues to offer free tickets to out-of-work families inspired me to recall this wonderful article written by the late American radio commentator Gabriel Heatter, revered for his morale-boosting rhetoric during some of the nation's darkest hours in the depths of Word War II. This article appeared in (and was likely written for) the 1943 Ringling-Barnum program magazine -- SD.
"We have heard a good deal about that word MORALE and its importance to us all. Put me down for the circus as the greatest morale tonic of all. Give me the circus to make me feel young again in spirit. Give me the circus and the laughter of children and the whole parade of wonders to make me realize life is good to live and worth living too
Give me the greatest show on earth — Lord how we need it now as never before. Give me a few hours to invite my soul in this wonder world and fine blessed forgetfulness for a few hours away from all the wear and tear and care of a world outside.
Give me a seat near the circus and let me hear stirring fanfare and let the great parade of wonders begin — and I am young again in heart and spirit. Give me a boy and girl close enough to share it with and to hear all the exclamations of wonder, bewilderment, surprise, and let the laughter ring out.
For the circus is a part of everything we mean by morale – a part of everything we mean by America. As much as Yellowstone or Pikes Peak or Yankee Doodle. Let me walk by the side shows and gaze in wonder on all the sights which remain unforgettably in one’s heart and memory. Give me all this and I’ll come out refreshed, happy, keen in spirit, and keen to come back again and again.
Why you could no more speak of America without a circus than America without baseball or football. Let me hear that circus band and feel the tingle and the warmth racing into my heart as it always does — and let me see all the eager, happy faces around me. Lord, how we need it now – as never before.
Yes, and give me the clowns and all their falls and tumbles and let me drink in all their generous and wholesome fun. That’s the word — fun — for man, woman, boy or girl for we need our share of it now. And the place to find it is in the circus — the greatest show in all the world. And here I’ll let myself go, and here I’ll shake off my cares for a few blessed hours, and here I’ll find all the reminders.
Life is good to live when there is a circus in town. So — on with the show. The circus has come and I and tens of millions will know there is a priceless bit of heaven-sent joy waiting for us all."
Thank you, Gabriel Heatter, and Thank you, Circus Vargas.