Sen. Ed Emery’s Legislative Report for Nov. 7, 2019

On This Day, Honor Veterans

“This will remain the land of the free so long as it is the home of the brave.” — Elmer Davis, reporter, author and director of U.S. Office of War Information during World War II.

On Monday, Nov. 11, government offices will close and many Americans will stay home from work. Sadly, some of us need to be reminded why we have a holiday in mid-November. So there is no confusion, let us explicitly declare that on this day, we honor America’s veterans.

The origin of Veterans Day began at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. On that day, the United States and Germany ended World War I — a conflict so brutal, and a cause so great, it was described as “the war to end all wars.” One year after peace was achieved, President Roosevelt declared the first Armistice Day, with solemn pride in the heroism of our troops and a hope for a world filled with peace among nations.

As we know, World War I did not end all wars. Following the next world war there was a call to update Armistice Day, and create a holiday in honor of all American servicemen and women. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed the legislation authorizing Veterans Day. One of three federal holidays that recognizes military service, Veterans Day is the day Americans express their gratitude for everyone who has ever served honorably in the nation’s Armed Forces. The other two holidays, Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, are reserved for current active duty military and those who sacrificed their lives in service of our county.

At a time when just 7 percent of Americans have worn the uniform of America’s military, it becomes increasingly difficult for many of us to feel a connection to service. We see an old man proudly wearing a “Veteran” cap or notice a Purple Heart license plate on a car and we are reminded that others have made sacrifices that we can scarcely understand. Few of us fully appreciate those who have defended our freedoms.

There are times, though, when the meaning of service becomes abundantly clear. One such reminder came early on Sunday morning, Oct. 27. The president of the United States appeared before television cameras to announce a daring overnight raid in Syria. Eight helicopters descended out of the darkness, delivering elite warriors in search of one of America’s most dangerous enemies. During the ensuing firefight, a number of ISIS terrorists were killed and others were captured. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, took his own life, detonating a suicide belt that also killed his own children.

The raid on al Baghdadi’s compound in the remote village of Barisha required careful planning and detailed coordination. Untold numbers of men and women pulled together to provide intelligence, support and logistics. For every soldier on the ground in Syria that night, there were dozens more performing tasks essential to the success of the mission. We’ll probably never know the names of the dedicated men and women responsible for eliminating this terrorist leader, but we understand that these warriors stepped forward to accept a duty that most of us are unwilling to bear.

There are currently about 20 million men and women wearing the uniforms of America’s various Armed Forces. These young people – and the vast majority are under the age of 30 – volunteer to keep our nation safe and defend our interests overseas. A relatively few soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines are asked to lead history-making missions. Most perform less spectacular, but equally essential duties. All deserve our appreciation and respect.

Let us never forget that before our troops swooped into Barisha in search of al Baghdadi, previous generations of young men fought bravely at places such as Mosul, Khe Sanh, Inchon and Bastogne. These names, once unfamiliar to us, are now part of our history and forever seared in the memories of yesterday’s warriors. Then, as today, the soldiers at the tip of the spear relied on help from many more uniformed personnel whose efforts made their success possible. It is these men who stand before us today wearing the veteran’s cap and proudly saluting when the America flag passes by.

Let’s never forget why we have a day off work in November. We rest because others have served. Yes, events half a world away remind us that there are heroes in our midst. But, on Veterans Day, every man or woman who ever wore the uniform of America’s military is a hero.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.