February 14, 2018, Prescott-
While there were many Roman Catholic holy men named Valentine (from the Latin valens (worthy, strong, powerful), the one most commonly associated with this day of celebrating romance, and. more recently, other forms of love was a Roman priest of the Third Century, who gave his life in witness to the Faith of Jesus the Christ.
It’s said that the most powerful love is indeed that which is given in sacrifice. We all know of parents and grandparents who sacrifice their all, for the welfare of the children they love. Countless spouses put all they have, and more, into their marriages. Siblings go the extra mile for one another. Service professionals, in the military, first responders, educators, health care professionals, social workers, more often than some believe go way beyond their job descriptions- even if it means ignoring said documents, in ensuring the welfare of their charges.
I have known many such people, among them one Augustine “Gus” Belmonte, a police officer in my home town of Saugus, MA, who was killed in the line of duty, on February 16, 1969, whilst responding to an armed robbery, at a local restaurant. I knew Gus as the consummate neighbourhood patrolman, usually on duty in Monument Square ( “the Center”), in the afternoons and evenings, when many of us would congregate near Sanborn’s News or McCarrier’s. He was strict with us, but never rough.
Later that same year, on a jungle path in VietNam, Private First Class Stanley Egan was walking point guard for his squad. He was mortally wounded, in an exchange with the Viet Cong, and died several days later, in hospital. Stan was a year my senior, and was ever both the life of any party and putting the welfare of others ahead of his own.
In August, 1984, a humble Indian Health Service dentist named Gordon Tong was attempting to get his truck out of the mud, on a back road in the central Navajo Nation. In the back of his vehicle were three of his four children and two elderly Navajo women. I had been riding with Gordon, and had been helping him get the vehicle unstuck, when his oldest son decided to run off and “go get help”. I left in pursuit of the child, and a short time later was met by a vehicle, driven by another friend, who had the boy with him, and informed me that Gordon had passed away, at the scene of the mishap. He had suffered a heart attack. This was the final sacrifice of a man who, with his wife, had given countless hours of his time and energy, in service to the Navajo and Hopi people, in the name of his Faith.
There are many others I know, who have given their all, while short of giving their lives. “Living sacrifice” is as meritorious as death, in a good many of their cases, as the lives they impact in a positive manner are ever stronger and happier.
So, in the name of a love that is far more basic than any romance, have a blessed Valentine’s Day, everyone!