Larkin Spivey Finding Faith In War

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day was special to Sgt. Edmund Sheldon. On that day in 1968 a Viet Cong mortar round landed five feet from his tent in Vietnam and completely destroyed it. It so happened that he was not in the tent, having been called away a few moments before to take a radio message. Sixteen years earlier, his unit in Korea had been hit by enemy mortar fire on February 14, marking the start of a four-day battle. ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ has had a special meaning to this soldier ever since these events.

Valentine’s Day, as we now know it, has vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions:

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men—his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. Through the ages since then, the day has became ever more associated with romantic love and the exchange of affectionate notes and letters. Printed cards came into vogue in the 1800’s, leading to the billion cards per year industry that we know today.

Although some of us have a certain cynicism about the blatant commercialism of all our holidays, including this one, Valentine’s Day still presents a golden opportunity to focus our attention on the ones we love. If cards and flowers advance certain romantic relationships, that’s a good thing. If well-established couples rekindle a spark, that is even better. I believe that God smiles in heaven when a man and woman nourish the love that brought them together and, in the process, nourish and strengthen their families.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

(This story is the February 14 devotional from Stories of Faith and Courage from the Vietnam War.

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