A Valentine Year for our Greatest Generation

Bolin and Lewisby Lois Bolin
Old Naples Historian with Florida Native, Peter Thomas, WWII Veteran

A 17.3 billion dollar industry, Valentine’s Day, has long been known as a day of romance but its tradition and patron saint is cloaked in mystery. Legend tells us that Valentine was a third century Roman priest, who defied Claudius II’s ‘no soldier marriage’ rule ultimately leading to Claudius’ orders for Valentine to be put to death.

Another legend alleges that the roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a lottery drawing day, which allowed young men to draw his female sweepstakes prize who served as a sexual companion for the year. Later the Church shifted this
ritual to allow both men and women to play the lottery with one small adjustment – this time the lotto determined which saints each
would emulate throughout year. Confusion over the true origin of Valentine’s Day, eventually led the Catholic Church in 1969 to drop this day from the Roman calendar as an official worldwide Catholic feast day.


These were the daysFebruary 14, 1943 saw the Battle of Kasserine Pass between the U.S. 1st Armored Division and German Panzers in North Africa. Valentine’s Day 1944, the Chindits, a special unit of British and Indian troops, launched a campaign in Burma, to bypass the execution of long-range operations behind the Japanese lines. The following year, Dresden, Germany was destroyed after bombing raids by Allied forces.

These Valentine’s Days are a small representation of the 4.5 grueling years our men and women at home and abroad endured -all for the love of God, Country, Family and Liberty. This fierce patriotism and love for America will shine this year, as Florida gets ready to show its pride in 2015.


victory floridaThis 2015 marks the 70th Anniversary of WWII, the most significant event in modern Florida, which swept her communities and her people into its frenzied vortex unleashing Florida’s historic economic boom.

To pay tribute to Florida’s role in WWII, a unique campaign, VICTORY FLORIDA, has been launched to promote Florida’s role, from the Panhandle to the Keys and all the area in between. While many Americans are taking World War II tours to key European sites, Florida can now offer Europeans (and Americans) an opportunity to experience the vital role Florida played in defeating the greatest tyranny the world has ever known.


VICTORY FLORIDA’s opportunity for tourists and locals to learn about Florida’s role in helping to win the war will come from the online guidebook for Florida’s WWII Heritage Trail. Now military organizations and veterans groups throughout the state’s eight regions, which host some 150 historic sites in 72 cities, can showcase their military bases, where bombers and gunners were trained and war ships were built.

Visitors can learn about Mickey Mouse’s support during the war, the agricultural inventions of citrus concentrate and DDT while enjoying the same destination hard working civilians and our military used for R & R.

Naples museums, veterans organizations, military groups and special event planners can register at VIVAFLORIDA.ORG, to sign up for monthly newsletter which opens the portal to populate local and regional events. Lee, Hendry, Charlotte and Sarasota counties will be asked to do the same, as will all counties in Florida. The more regional entries, the more ammunition VISIT FLORIDA has to promote activities nationally and abroad.

Every month numerous veterans’ events can be found in our area. This year with the help of VICTORY FLORIDA and VISIT FLORIDA, we can have a ‘Valentine Year’ by showing our Florida Pride and our gratitude to our local sentinels of liberty.

Email Lois at napleshistorylady@gmail.com for event ideas or questions and visit us at VICTORY FLORIDA SWFL on FB to let us know what your group is planning. Register at VIVAFLORIDA.ORG to get updates on monthly statewide conference calls to learn from other
organizations around the state.

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