Intermission: The Most Beautiful Valentine Ever Made

A letter from a soldier in the Union Army, about to go into battle, sent home to his wife.


Today is Valentine's Day, a day when many will feel obligated to engage in trite courtship conventions while the rest of us go out drinking.

Yes, Valentine's Day is steeped in the saccharine Hallmark culture that dominates the seasonal aisles of the supermarket. It's a holiday that leverages expectation and guilt to equal measure and to great effect. Most of us resent the hell out of it, and rightly so; Valentine's will try its hardest to convince you that your special someone requires validation through the excessive purchase of flowers, chocolates, and jewelry. Friends, this is highly refined bullshit.

Sullivan Ballou, a major in the Union Army, wrote this letter to his wife a week prior to fighting in the Battle of Bull Run. It was composed in the middle of July, in the middle of the deadliest war in American history, a week before one of the bloodiest battles. It is one of the most beautiful, sincere, and moving testaments of love I've ever encountered. It is a Valentine that will shame anything you can possibly buy.

Watch, and reconsider your evening.