U.S. troops and commanders in Iraq marked the official end of the war today. As soldiers lowered the U.S. Iraq colors in a ceremony at the Baghdad airport, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta thanked our troops for their sacrifices and spoke about our commitment to supporting Iraqi development and democracy going forward.
“You leave with great pride, lasting pride, secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people begin a new chapter in history.
“No words, no ceremony can provide full tribute to the sacrifices which have brought this day to pass,” Secretary Panetta said. “I’m reminded of what President Lincoln said in Gettysburg, about a different war, in a different time. His words echo through the years as we pay tribute to the fallen in this war: ‘The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.’
“We undertake this transition today reminding Iraq that it has in the United States a committed friend and a committed partner. We owe it to all the lives that have been sacrificed in this war not to fail.
“This is not the end. This is truly the beginning.”
President Obama will keep fighting to give our troops and veterans the best possible support and services as they return home this December. Leave a message of thanks for our servicemembers and their families for all they’ve done for our country.