Dates on a calendar represent history, and in history there is a story to be told.
Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, is for the romantic and lovers. On Feb. 23, 1945 at the Battle of Iwo Jima, the American flag was raised.
How do two dates relate and show reverence, especially in “Veteran Next Door?”
Iwo Jima was one of America’s most heavily fought battles during World War II. An island of volcanic rock was to be instrumental in the island hopping in WW II. All the memorials in Washington, D.C., are dedicated to wars, except the Battle of Iwo Jima Memorial that honors the Marines who gave all. The Iwo Jima Memorial, as is the photo, is truly memorable and moving. The picture of the flag being raised on Mount Suribachi is the most widely recognized war photograph. It earned Joe Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize for the photo.
Locally, a veteran saw the U.S. Flag being raised on that historic date. Sanford “Sandy” Berkman, a Marine Second Lieutenant at the age of 24, fought on that island. His platoon of 53 men experienced 100 percent casualty rate – 26 were killed, and the other 27 wounded. Sandy was wounded by mortar fire. He is not precisely sure if he saw the first or second raising of the flag.
Sandy lives in the town of New Scotland and spends about five months in Florida with his wife, Dolly. Sandy deserves so much respect and honor, and his story will be told for many years to come.
How does Sandy and the Battle of Iwo Jima relate to Valentine’s Day?
Legend and religious history tells of Valentine, a Roman priest, around year 269 A.D. The Emperor Claudias had to maintain strong armies. He persecuted the Catholic Church with one of his edicts. Claudius passed an edict that prohibited young people to marry. The theory was that unmarried soldiers fought better than married ones. He believed married soldiers were afraid, worried and would not fight as hard because of their wives and families. Valentine violated the edict and secretly married the young men in his church. While imprisoned, he developed a relationship by sharing letters with the jailer’s daughter. Legend says on the day of his execution, he left the jailer’s daughter a note and signed it “From your Valentine.” He was executed on Feb. 14, 270.
Valentine’s martyrdom was definitely noted by the general public. He became the Patron Saint of Lovers.
The two February dates and people some 1,745 years apart are related in love, caring and commitment. Regardless of marital status, our troops in wartime or those wishing to join our military have the courage and spirit of Saint Valentine.