In 1914 Europe was embroiled in the Great War. At the same time United States was enjoying great peace and prosperity while watching with concern the European conflict. Most Americans did not want to be drawn into the war. It would be more than two years before the United States entered the war many thought would be the war to end all wars..
Mindful of the destruction in Europe, as the Christmas holidaycame near, the Hershey Press published this greeting from Milton Hershey in the December 24, 1914 issue.
From the Hershey Press, December 23, 1914
The editor asked Mr. M.S. Hershey to send a Christmas message for the readers of the Hershey Press. Mr. Hershey very kindly replied:
I have your note asking me to send a Christmas word for the readers of the Hershey Press. It is so much like saying “Merry Christmas” to the members of the same big family that it might well be taken for granted, but as this is the family festival it is all the more pleasure to congratulate everybody and to wish you all the compliments of the season.
We know that we are peculiarly blessed. We have our great country at peace and on the verge of a new prosperity. We have the richest and finest State in the Union. We have one of its best countries. We have in Derry its choice township, and during the year just past more has been done to promote Derry=s progress than in any like period. Finer schools and better roads and improved farms and a higher average of everything are some of the results of the year’s work.
Of course we like to think of Hershey as the center of Derry and as a center of our larger State and national life. We have done much to prove this during the past twelve months. Your gifts have gone to help not only state hospitals and institutions and big national philanthropies but they have crossed the ocean to aid the starving and homeless Belgians. I am assured that for a place of its size Hershey has made a record this year in its contributions. Surely you must be congratulated for that.
This leads to another fact developing very happily in Hershey’s life. Our resident population is about 1,000. I am informed that if the memberships of our various clubs, societies, churches and other organizations, covering nearly all of the interests of a community, were to be added together the total would be over 1,000. Of course, some belong to more than one association, but it seems to me a fine thing that the people of a town less than a dozen years old have taken hold of its life with so much earnestness, and that everybody from the kindergartners to the members of the Mothers’ Club, from the boys scouts to the 450 members of the Men’s Club, is interested. There is pride naturally in the success of our factory but there is greater pride in seeing the community around it growing into a model town of happy homes and thinking people.
I rejoice with you in the good clean sport of the year. It has been fine and the men and women who have given their time to it deserve our praise. Let us do all we can to keep high the standards they have raised and to make the name of Hershey in sport stand for only what is fair and square.
We are unique in having a thousand population with a public school of 600 pupils. I should like to send a personal greeting to each of these and I should like to include the members of the School Board of Derry Township who have done their work so well. We should all work for the greater success of our school and I know of no better way to do this than by supporting by our appreciation in every way we can the efforts of the teachers.
If we look a little closely we shall find that all these things belong to co-operation. I am a great believer in co-operation. The idea that Christmas emphasizes is co-operation–all working for one another and trying to increase the general sum of human happimess. We are doing many things in Hershey now. The little town has become large and manly and meaured by the past ten years. Who can say what it will be in another decade? But it is the spirit and not the size that makes a community great–and I am glad that Hershey is full of the spirit of Christmas, for that is the spirit of all progress that is worth anything.
Christmas 1914 M.S. Hershey