Kevin Patrick Law - February 2021

It’s in the Cards


This may be the first year in a long time that kids don’t pass out Valentine’s Day cards at school. Going into the new year, the seasonal section of most stores is lined with cards featuring fun characters from superheroes to unicorns. Handing out cards is now a well-loved tradition, but have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day became one of the biggest card- giving holidays of the year? Like many holiday traditions, the convention of handing out Valentine’s Day cards goes back centuries. During the 1700s, it became fashionable to trade Valentine’s Day cards with a short poem or verse. The popularity of swapping cards only increased throughout the 1800s. Sometimes, people would go as far as to paint or draw spring-like images on the cards. They were much more elaborate than what we typically see today, though they were still usually very small.

But where did those folks get the idea? People of that era were likely inspired by stories that go back even further. There are legends that the originator of this holiday tradition was Saint Valentine himself. One story says that on the night before he was set to be executed, Valentine wrote a small letter to a jailer’s daughter. He ended the note with “Your alentine.” It’s unknown whether that story is true, but to 18th century Europeans and Americans, it was inspiring! So inspiring, in fact, that the entire Valentine’s Day industry began to gain traction. A guidebook called “The Young Man’s Valentine” was published in 1797 to help suitors garner the attention of their love interests through the written word. Eventually, books aimed at women were also published, including “The Lady’s Own Valentine Writer,” which served much the same goal.

These publications, along with young people writing notes to one another every February, have made Valentine’s Day cards an ingrained tradition, and now people can’t get enough of them!

The Man With No Middle Name

When he was a boy, Kevin Patrick visited the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri. He walked through the quiet rooms, browsing the president’s personal papers, examining his family genealogy, and staring wide-eyed at his office and gravesite. Among other treasures, the museum had collected a charred piece of wood from the original White House, which the British burned in 1812. According to the note on the exhibit, Truman had displayed his prize in the Oval Office. Awed by this and other pieces of the past, future history major Kevin decided that Truman was his favorite president. “I realized I admired him as a president and as a person,” Kevin recalls, “He just has this overall humility; he was down to earth and just a good, decent man.” Though President Truman is best remembered for his role in the dramatic ending of WWII, his story had humble beginnings. He grew up as a Midwestern farm boy without a college degree or even a middle name. (The famous “S.” doesn’t stand for anything — it’s a symbolic reference to his two grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.) Then, Truman tried

to make hats for a living and failed. Still, through a combination of hard work and grit, he eventually entered politics and became president of the United States. “I’ve always been impressed by how Truman

stepped into President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s shoes and faced the challenges of World War II head on,” Kevin says. “After the war, he took the huge step of signing the Marshall Plan, which sent $400 million in emergency aid to Western Europe. That did wonders for the region’s economic recovery and got people back on their feet.” At home, Truman also signed a landmark executive order in 1948 that ended discrimination in the U.S. military "on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.” It was a big step forward for equality in this country and one of the things that impressed Kevin most. This Presidents Day, consider picking up a copy of “The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World” by A.J. Baime to learn more about Kevin’s favorite president. There’s more to him than you might think!

You can always reach Kevin directly at 404.566.8964 or (If you ever need it, his cell phone is 404.409.3160.)

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