For more than 30 years, Schnucks and KZIM have held a Valentine's Day party for special couples in Southeast Missouri: husbands and wives who have been married 50 years or more. And there are lots of them.
This year, the Arena Building was filled with 250 couples who have celebrated their golden wedding anniversaries -- and then some.
One Oran couple will be marking their 71st wedding anniversary next month. The secret to such a long marriage? "Picking the right companion," said Lloyd Francis with wife Ruth at his side.
For many young couples, marriage has become optional. They live together, put their names on mortgages and have children without bothering with a wedding. National statistics show that both the marriage rate and the divorce rate are dropping. (Both are based on marriages or divorces per 1,000 population.)
Marriage is an institution that has both secular and religious aspects. Southeast Missouri has a strong religious foundation, which may account for lasting marriages in this area.
Most importantly, the couples who show up each year for the Schnucks-KZIM party are wonderful role models for anyone considering a wedding or striving to make a marriage work. Congratulations to all the couples whose many years of marriage encourage all of us to remember why we fell in love and why marriage is such an important institution.