Valentine’s Day. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Hearts? Candy? Cuddly animals?
You probably would not think of a massacre.
In the 1920s, Chicago was torn apart by gang violence. It was dominated by the notorious Al Capone, who sought to eliminate his enemies and increase his profit.
George “Bugs” Moran, an Irish gangster, was chief among Capone’s enemies, and Capone was keen to get rid of him.
On February 14, 1929, imposters dressed as police officers shot dead seven men linked to Moran in what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Capone’s nemesis, Moran, survived the massacre by minutes; he was going to meet the men when the murders occurred.
Although Capone was never tried for the murders, it was widely believed that he was responsible. Capone continued to rule Chicago and make millions of illegal dollars until he was convicted in 1931 for tax evasion.
It is safe to say that Valentine’s Day was very different in the 1920s than today.
Today, Valentine’s Day has been transformed to mean something completely different, and as we enter the “new 20s,” Al Capone, Valentine’s Day massacres and gang warfare can seem so far away.
Instead, Valentine’s Day means spending time with our loved ones, but it also means waiting in abnormally long lines to buy extremely overpriced chocolates and strawberries.
Is Valentine’s Day in 2020 really about saving up to buy roses we see on Instagram that can cost anywhere from a $1000 and upward?
No, it is not, and the history of Valentine’s Day is a reminder of that.
On a day that was meant to be about love, there was a violent bloodbath and apparently, violence on Valentine’s Day is not just confined to the 1920s.
Just two years ago we witnessed the Parkland Shooting take our nation by storm, also on Feb. 14.
The gun violence that existed in Al Capone’s time still exists today. Although Capone ended up in jail, his story was not that simple.
After the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the community in Chicago got together and decided they had enough. They organized, and they demanded that something be done about Capone to get him off the streets.
The government listened.
Capone was vigilantly watched until he was eventually caught for tax evasion. It was not exactly the catch anyone might have expected, but it was enough to get him off the streets of Chicago.
It is time to get guns out of our schools too. We are capable of coming together to get action done because we have done it before.
Valentine’s Day has a dark history. It has dark origins. It has become a business, but it is also about celebrating the love and community we see every day.
That is the energy of Valentine’s Day we need going into 2020.
We can have our strawberries and chocolates. We can even have them on February 15 when they are 50 percent off.
But we also need to be aware of history. We need to remember that in many ways, the past is the present. It can even be the future.
We are the only ones that can do something to change that future starting now.