On Tuesday, Aug. 31, President Barack Obama addressed American citizens from the Oval Office and declared an end to the seven-year, five-month War in Iraq.
He stated that the United States has satisfied its obligation in Iraq, making it time to turn to more important matters at home, including the condition of the economy.
“We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. Through the remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page,” the president stated in his speech.
Approximately 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq through next summer, less than a third of the number of troops in Iraq during the surge in 2007. These remaining troops are working with Iraq’s military to build on Iraqi security forces and to protect American personnel. All remaining troops are scheduled to be removed by the end of 2011.
With the end of a war that has claimed more than 4,400 Americans and 70,000 Iraqis, students at Rollins have mixed reactions. Some students are upset and feel like the work of the United States in Iraq is not done. One student stated, “Maybe it was a mistake to get started, but you don’t just ditch people when you are in the middle of helping them. How do we know what is really going to happen when we leave?”
Others have very different opinions. “It is about time,” one student forcefully stated. “We should have done this long ago.” Another student felt that the time was right: “It feels right. We have done what we can, but now we have more problems at home. It is time to pay more attention to the United States than to the rest of the world and get our country and economy back on track.”
Three students were simply relieved. They all had relatives who were fighting in Iraq, all of which are returning home. These students are glad to have their brother, father and uncle back with them in one piece. “I am just glad we are leaving before anyone else got hurt.”
This is definitely a touchy issue around the Rollins campus and throughout the United States. After almost seven and a half years, Saddam Hussein has been removed from power and American soldiers are finally returning home. The future of Iraq is now in its own hands. In the words of President Obama, “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over.”