As summer in Maryland begins to fade, I can't help but think about the millions of children and young adults returning to school. I know how fortunate we are to live in a land of relative peace and opportunity, especially for our children's sake. In stark contrast is Syria, a nation beset by a violent conflict that has left millions of Syrian children displaced, homeless, or worse, unable to attain anything close to opportunity.

The war in Syria is nearing its three-year mark, having claimed 100,000 lives and forced millions from their homes. Most of the affected are children. It is upsetting then to see our leaders, including Sen. Barbara Mikulski, not doing more to end the bloodshed by calling on the Obama administration to press world leaders to hold a peace conference as soon as possible. Secretary of State John Kerry's recently-stated commitment to hold a peace conference is a step in the right direction, but his rhetoric must be met with action.

A peace conference won't result in an immediate solution, but it could help give these children a future by setting the path to negotiate a peace, and teach them what it means to be a true leader.

Raymond C. Offenheiser, Boston, Mass.

The writer is president of Oxfam America.