How much would you sacrifice for love?

Every day should be a day to celebrate romance. If you wait until February 14th  each year to show affection to your soul—mate, you're probably going to spend a lot of time alone. But that shouldn't take anything away from special occasions that have become reminders for those who take love for granted.

Many years ago, way before Al Gore invented the Internet, relationships were not so easy to come by. During the third century there was a priest named Valentine who lived in Rome while it was being ruled by an emperor named Claudius. Known as 'Claudius the Cruel,' he did all he could to live up to his name.

Rome was in the early stages of its decline and the emperor wanted to keep it from eroding any further. Hence, he began a quest to rebuild his army. He sounded the clarion call for volunteers, only to discover that most men were tired of war and didn't want to leave their wives and families. Enrollment numbers were very minimal, making Claudius furious. The cruel one came up with an idea; if men were not married, there would be no wives or families to abandon, so they wouldn't mind joining the army. (Of course, this was during a time in history when people couldn't even imagine having children out of wedlock.)

Therefore, the emperor decreed that marriages would no longer be allowed. With untold numbers of broken hearts stumbling dizzily through a sea of unrequited love, a hero was desperately needed. Valentine, coming to the rescue, defied the heartless edict and performed the nuptials in secret.

Evidently, some cynical loveless squealer dropped a dime (or a denarius, as it were) on the priest. As a reward for his noble deed, Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off.

While awaiting his execution, many young people, their hearts filled with admiration for the courage and chivalry displayed by the priest, threw flowers and notes toward his cell window. They wanted him to know that they also believed in love and that they respected him for his sacrifice. In addition, they had his name sewn on the sleeves of their garments and paraded around the city to demonstrate their affection.

This practice  became known as wearing one's heart on one's sleeve. Meanwhile, the captive priest struck up a friendship with the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to talk with Valentine and help him through the difficult days before facing the torture and ultimate death. On the day of his execution, he left the young woman a note thanking her for the friendship and loyalty. He signed it, 'Love from your Valentine.'

According to legend, that note began the tradition of exchanging messages of love. Valentine died for his convictions on February 14, 269 A.D.

Of course, all of the foregoing could be riddled with inaccuracies, but in every legend there is some factual foundation.

Some historians have said that Valentine was executed and became a martyr because he refused to give up Christianity. In any event, he was granted sainthood by the pope and the story has lasted for about 1800 years.

Like many great events in history, Valentine's Day has become a retailer's dream.

Flowers, heart—shaped boxes of chocolates, greeting cards and intimate apparel are high on the list of gifts that help all those Romeos and Juliets to keep the flame of passion alive. And, like most great events, people celebrate because they are pulled along in the magnetic wake of tradition.

They either forget, or they never knew about all those courageous souls throughout history who sacrificed everything for their beliefs and helped to pave the way for the civilization we enjoy today. Even in the hustle—bustle world of traffic jams, stress—filled meetings and the ubiquitous cacophony of cell phone symphonies, we must never forget that without love and romance, life would be, as the philosopher, Thomas Hobbes said, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

If you don't remember to make your special someone feel extra special today, your life may well become solitary, and if recent studies are to be believed, short, too.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com

Every day should be a day to celebrate romance. If you wait until February 14th  each year to show affection to your soul—mate, you're probably going to spend a lot of time alone. But that shouldn't take anything away from special occasions that have become reminders for those who take love for granted.

Many years ago, way before Al Gore invented the Internet, relationships were not so easy to come by. During the third century there was a priest named Valentine who lived in Rome while it was being ruled by an emperor named Claudius. Known as 'Claudius the Cruel,' he did all he could to live up to his name.

Rome was in the early stages of its decline and the emperor wanted to keep it from eroding any further. Hence, he began a quest to rebuild his army. He sounded the clarion call for volunteers, only to discover that most men were tired of war and didn't want to leave their wives and families. Enrollment numbers were very minimal, making Claudius furious. The cruel one came up with an idea; if men were not married, there would be no wives or families to abandon, so they wouldn't mind joining the army. (Of course, this was during a time in history when people couldn't even imagine having children out of wedlock.)

Therefore, the emperor decreed that marriages would no longer be allowed. With untold numbers of broken hearts stumbling dizzily through a sea of unrequited love, a hero was desperately needed. Valentine, coming to the rescue, defied the heartless edict and performed the nuptials in secret.

Evidently, some cynical loveless squealer dropped a dime (or a denarius, as it were) on the priest. As a reward for his noble deed, Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off.

While awaiting his execution, many young people, their hearts filled with admiration for the courage and chivalry displayed by the priest, threw flowers and notes toward his cell window. They wanted him to know that they also believed in love and that they respected him for his sacrifice. In addition, they had his name sewn on the sleeves of their garments and paraded around the city to demonstrate their affection.

This practice  became known as wearing one's heart on one's sleeve. Meanwhile, the captive priest struck up a friendship with the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to talk with Valentine and help him through the difficult days before facing the torture and ultimate death. On the day of his execution, he left the young woman a note thanking her for the friendship and loyalty. He signed it, 'Love from your Valentine.'

According to legend, that note began the tradition of exchanging messages of love. Valentine died for his convictions on February 14, 269 A.D.

Of course, all of the foregoing could be riddled with inaccuracies, but in every legend there is some factual foundation.

Some historians have said that Valentine was executed and became a martyr because he refused to give up Christianity. In any event, he was granted sainthood by the pope and the story has lasted for about 1800 years.

Like many great events in history, Valentine's Day has become a retailer's dream.

Flowers, heart—shaped boxes of chocolates, greeting cards and intimate apparel are high on the list of gifts that help all those Romeos and Juliets to keep the flame of passion alive. And, like most great events, people celebrate because they are pulled along in the magnetic wake of tradition.

They either forget, or they never knew about all those courageous souls throughout history who sacrificed everything for their beliefs and helped to pave the way for the civilization we enjoy today. Even in the hustle—bustle world of traffic jams, stress—filled meetings and the ubiquitous cacophony of cell phone symphonies, we must never forget that without love and romance, life would be, as the philosopher, Thomas Hobbes said, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

If you don't remember to make your special someone feel extra special today, your life may well become solitary, and if recent studies are to be believed, short, too.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com