It's Time to Rebuild America

Thank Them For Their Sacrifice, and Then Bring All Our Troops Home

by Hailey Alfred, age 18

American history is steeped in war. We’ve fought the British, the Germans, the Native Americans, and even each other. As our enemies changed, so did our reasons for fighting. We fought first for our freedom, then for the land, and later for our rights. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers have lived and died for America.

American soldiers are now fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But today our reasons for fighting are somewhat blurry. And what were supposed to be quick missions resulted in two seemingly endless wars.

President Obama recently put a timetable on both of these wars. The withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq is complete. But the American presence in that country continues.

In Afghanistan, the goal is to begin the troop withdrawal from the country by July 2011. There are some who believe the idea of withdrawing that quickly is “unrealistic.” One of these skeptics is Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

“If you overemphasize a deadline that is not realistic, you’re making the enemy a lot more bold, you’re prolonging the war. That deadline should be realistic, that deadline should be based on the reality on the ground. And we should give a clear message to the enemy, to terrorists who are a threat to everyone, that the United States, NATO, and Afghans are there to finish this job,” said Lieberman.

The senator makes a reasonable point. Withdrawing too soon could possibly extend the war, thus prolonging the commitment of our soldiers. On the other hand, we have been at war for almost a decade—longer than both of the World Wars. Isn’t it time to bring our soldiers home?

Leaving the Middle East will be a gradual process. During the early stages of withdrawal from Iraq, soldiers began by relinquishing control of buildings and properties to the Iraqi people. An American withdrawal is a complicated process. We owe it to the Afghans and Iraqis to restore some semblance of order to their countries.

As President Obama said in one of his speeches, “July 2011 will mark the beginning of a process, not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits and turns out the lights.”

I believe that the U.S. has hit a roadblock in both wars. We declared war in Iraq for ambiguous, even shifty reasons. American citizens were led to believe the initial invasion of Iraq was based on intelligence they possessed weapons of mass destruction. Then it turned into a fight against terrorists. On the other hand, we have helped the country immensely by ending the regime of Saddam Hussein.

We have tried to help the people of the Middle East, though the success of our efforts is debatable. One thing is certain: our troops and their families have sacrificed a great deal.

And there is something else that is certain: America’s young people are apprehensive about the future. We read about rising college costs, declining wages, unemployment, outsourcing and a shaky social security system. We can’t help but wonder about our future. Isn’t it time to focus on rebuilding our own country?

I believe that it is time to bring all our soldiers home. It is time to rebuild the country for which they fought.

[Sources: Newsweek;; Associated Press]

Editor’s Note: Hailey Alfred is the Senior Teen Editor at Simpson Street Free Press. Her mother recently returned from Iraq where she was deployed with the 32nd Infantry Brigade.

As a young person I question both of the wars and what effects they will have on our economy and my future. Great story Hailey! – Adaeze OkoliMadison, WI (2010-11-20 11:05)