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The season of love, loving thoughts

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- St. Valentine's Day is upon us, giving us yet another opportunity to express our affection for the loved ones in our lives.

The history of St. Valentine goes back centuries, and to confuse things even more, it appears there may have been more than one saint named Valentine.

One of the legends is that of a Roman priest who lived during the reign of Emperor Claudias. Because the emperor believed single men made better soldiers, he forbid them to marry. However, Valentine was sought out by these soldiers and he would secretly perform marriage ceremonies. He was eventually caught and placed under house arrest.

While discussing his faith with Judge Asterius, and in an effort to prove the validity of Jesus, he purportedly performed a miracle by restoring sight to the judge's daughter. Besides allowing Valentine to go free, the judge and his entire household were baptized.

In 269 AD, St. Valentine was arrested again and the emperor gave him the option of renouncing his faith or being executed. He chose his faith. Not a very romantic ending to his life.

The legend continues that the last words he wrote were in a note to Judge Asterius' daughter, for whom he had performed the miracle. He inspired today's romantic missives by signing it, "from your Valentine."

As you contemplate loving thoughts this Valentine's Day, please consider including the following:

Love your family -- You would think this goes without saying, but we have all experienced lapses in sharing our love and affection with those closest to us. Remind them how special they are to you, and since this is Thursday, you still have time to get a card for your significant others.

Love your friends and neighbors -- Don't forget to let you friends and neighbors know how fond you are of them. Being there to help them in times of need is one of those little things that goes a long way in developing a good relationship. Collectively, this is how a pleasant community is created and maintained.

Love your pets -- I have learned that love is not a uniquely human experience. Those of us who have a companion animal quickly learn how much they seem to love their humans. I have also learned not to take this unconditional love as proof that I actually deserve it, but as a goal to reach. If you have a pet, take good care of it, which includes showing it affection. And just in general, simply be kind to all animals.

Love your community -- A vibrant community takes work. Not all of it can be done through government services. When the opportunity arises, please do not hesitate to support, volunteer or simply encourage the many community organizations doing good works.

Love the environment -- We share this Earth with many other living things. Human actions should not adversely impact the ability of our wildlife to live a natural life. Is it too much to ask that a few acres of land be set aside for their benefit without the intrusion of human activity? Whereas we have options to fulfill our recreational desires, our local wildlife does not. When humans encroach on their habitat, they have very few options.

Love our country -- As Airmen in today's United States Air Force I know we all love the Country we serve, that is probably one of the reasons we joined, on Valentine's Day take a moment to reflect on this amazing country and the people we serve.