Bloody, Bloody Valentines-A A +A
Saturday, February 16, 2013
VALENTINE’S Day is, as you all know, traditionally a day full of chocolates, declarations of love, insanely expensive restaurants, and public displays of affection that make single people throw up. It is also the anniversary of not one, not two, but three “Valentine’s Day massacres”.
That’s right – people died on Valentine’s Day… several times, and to add to that, you’re dating and dining on the day a saint got his head chopped off.
Allow me to explain about that – the Roman priest Valentinus, in the year 270 or thereabouts, was arrested and found guilty of the charge of marrying Christian couples. At the time, Christians were considered enemies of the state, and aiding them in any way was considered a crime.
After his arrest, he was brought before the emperor himself. The emperor took a liking to him… until he tried to convert him to Christianity. It was at this point that the emperor got boiling mad and had him executed (who wouldn’t? That would be like an anarchist revolutionary being invited into Malacañang only for him to say “Mr. President – I think it’d be a fun idea to get rid of our government).
Valentinus was beaten to death with clubs and stones and was proclaimed a saint several centuries later. We know him today as Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers… as well as fainting and epilepsy (possibly side-effects from the beatings).
Now, the Valentine’s Day tradition of giving out greeting cards, candies and restaurant coupons didn’t really start until the 15th century. A century before that, it was a day remembered in Strasbourg, Germany as the day the townspeople did something to their Jews (it’s the Germans – do I really need to tell you what they did?).
The Black Death was spreading through Europe, and most of the towns and cities in what was then the Holy Roman Empire (modern Germany) were infected by the plague. Strasbourg had not yet been infected.
They needed a scapegoat – something or somebody must’ve been responsible for the plague that was killing millions of people. It finally occurred to some bright fellow that maybe, just maybe, the Jews might be responsible for it.
So the people of Strasbourg grabbed their torches and pitchforks and set to work burning the homes, properties and bodies of as many Jews as they could find. When they got tired of the massacre, they deported the rest of the Jews.
Eventually, the plague caught up with Strasbourg and the people realized that maybe the Jews didn’t have anything to do with the plague, and Germans never killed another Jew again… just kidding, remember Hitler?
That was the first massacre. Like I said, there were three massacres, and two of them happened in the United States of America. The second one was in 1929, and it involves one of the most prolific figures of the roaring twenties – and perhaps the most famous mob boss of all time – Al Capone, or as his very close friends called him, “Scarface.”
On Valentine’s Day in 1929, in Chicago, Illinois, men in police uniforms brought seven gangsters to a parking garage and hosed him down with Thompson submachine guns.
Now, you might think this would be a little extreme for the Chicago police, and you’d be right. The killers were in fact Capone’s men dressed as cops. The gangsters were from a rival gang – the Irish North Side Gang, who made the foolish mistake of trying to muscle in on Capone’s bootlegging operation, his dog-racing track and a few saloons.
The actual police showed up soon after and found out that one of the victims was still alive – Frank Gusenberg. Gusenberg was taken to a hospital, and when he stabilized, he was asked about who had shot him. Even after sustaining 14 .45 rounds, he replied, “Nobody shot me.” Apparently, he probably thought that Capone would go after his family or friends – and he didn’t want to add to the Valentine’s Day massacre’s body count.
The most recent Valentine’s Day massacre happened in 2008, in the same state as the one that happened in 1929.
The Northern Illinois University was holding a lesson on oceanography at the school’s auditorium. Twenty-seven-year-old Steven Kazmierczak was in attendance, but he wasn’t taking notes. He wore a black ammunition belt, and carried a 12-gauge shotgun, two 9mm pistols (a Glock and a Sig Sauer), and a .380 pistol.
As a kind of joke, he even wore a shirt with the word “terrorist” on it in big, bold letters.
What began as a sleep-inducing lecture on oceanography quickly became a bloody, violent and life-threatening game of hide-and-seek with the shooter. Kazmierczak entered through a backstage door, where he unloaded the shotgun on the members of the auditorium. When people started running, Kazmierczak spent his shotgun ammunition on them in a calm, remorseless manner, and after he had run out, began firing away with his pistols.
He killed six people including himself, but injured twenty-one. Kazmierczak had a history of mental disease, and was taking anti-depressant drugs shortly before the shooting started, but he had never displayed any violent tendencies before. Ironically, his girlfriend said he was “…anything but a monster… he was probably the nicest, most caring person ever.”
That’s something for you all to think about – a lot of blood rises from romance on V-day, but a lot of blood has also been spilled on that day.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 17, 2013.