Senator Justin Brown’s Legislative Column for Oct. 31, 2019

A Day to Honor All Veterans

Monday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. Originally Armistice Day, the national holiday was first set aside to commemorate the end of World War I, “The War to End All Wars.” The 11th day of November was chosen because the 1918 treaty that ended the First World War was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Following World War II, Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, creating a holiday to honor all those who ever wore the uniform of America’s Armed Forces.

Americans tend to become complacent about holidays. We often forget to reflect on the meaning behind these special days, and simply enjoy a day off from work. Recent events remind us of the reason we mark a day for veterans.

As the nation awoke on Oct. 27, the news channels carried a live broadcast of the president describing a daring overnight raid in Syria. I hope all Americans watching took a moment to consider the courageous men and women who carried out the mission. The assault, which led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, required careful planning and detailed coordination. A literal army 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 identities of the men and women responsible for eliminating one of America’s most deadly enemies. We’ll also never know how many of our service men and women were involved behind the scenes. We’re told that eight helicopters carried teams of elite U.S. troops into a remote village in Syria. Once inside Barisha, these brave men (and possibly women) breached a wall and encountered armed resistance. In the ensuing battle, a number of ISIS fighters were killed and others were captured. Baghdadi, the target of the mission, ended his own life with a suicide belt.

Like other armed actions throughout history, this mission was carried out by young people. Two thirds of America’s active duty military personnel are under the age of 30. At an age when most of their high school classmates are climbing the corporate ladder, raising families or living paycheck to paycheck, a relatively few young men and women serve their country. The heroes of Barisha could have easily been back home, enjoying a civilian life with their old friends. Instead, they chose to rush into harm’s way to protect the rest of us.

Think about these courageous young people the next time you see a grey-haired man wearing a veteran’s cap. Never forget that before there was Barisha or Mosul or Kamdesh, there was Khe Sanh and Inchon and Normandy. The names are written in history books and in the memories of old men. The grizzled veteran we see saluting the flag at a parade or ball game was once a young warrior.

There are more than 20 million U.S. military veterans alive today. Some served in times of war and saw combat. Others provided essential support to those efforts. Even more were on guard while hostilities around the world were stilled. They all served their country, though. Each one accepted the assignments they were given and did their duty.

World War I was not the war to end all wars. Generation after generation of American men and women have donned the uniform of the U.S. military in the years since to wage war when necessary, and keep the peace when possible. We owe each and every one of them a debt of gratitude.

As Nov. 11 approaches – and every day for that matter – let’s all take a moment to thank those who served our country. And when you do that, try to imagine not the aging veteran before you but the young warrior that was. The veteran you see today may not have helicoptered into the darkness, but every veteran answered the call in some way. And for this, they all deserve our respect.

It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at for more information.