By James Middlebrook

This month marked the 17th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, and the intended destruction of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC via Flight 93. Resulting from the attacks, the United States launched into what has become the longest running war in our history. Every year Americans solemnly reflect on 9/11, but, this year is different: 9/11 of 2018 is the first year people born after the attacks can enlist in the armed services and serve in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

The war in Afghanistan started on October 7, 2001 as a result of terrorism on U.S. soil  orchestrated by Al-Qaeda led by Osama Bin Laden and enabled by the Taliban. Since that day, we have been sending men and women to fight in OEF. Mothers and fathers have returned from war only to see their daughters and sons deploy to the same fight. Now, the new generation of enlisted soldiers were not alive when the catalyst to this war took place.

Americans need to reflect on our current situation; our leaders over the past two decades; vision for the future; and, the moral implications of sending young men and women to fight a generational war. Consider if America had sent warriors born after December 7, 1941 to continue avenging the attack on Pearl Harbor. How would we reflect on the successes of WWII? The United States still faces the credible threat of terrorism from both terrorists and those who finance and harbor them. It is not in our best interest to let Afghanistan fall back to the Taliban and lose all progress made over the last 17 years. So, we continue to fight for freedom, peace, and civility in Afghanistan.

Our young servicemembers deserve a clear vision for the future. Two options to consider are a negotiated political peace with the Taliban or an indefinite military presence similar to South Korea. We appreciate our service members and the sacrifices they make everyday to secure American safety and freedoms. It’s time for our political leaders, national security professionals, and citizens to take a moment to reflect on the position we find ourselves — sending a new generation to fight a war that started before they were even born.