“After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real,” Panetta said at a ceremony held under tight security at Baghdad ‘s international airport.
“To be sure, the cost was high – in blood and treasure for the United States, and for the Iraqi people. Those lives were not lost in vain. ” – Washington Post.
America’s colors have been cased in Iraq — the flag was just symbolically put away at a ceremony marking the end of a war that lasted nearly nine years.
At the Baghdad airport a short time ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other officials were there to mark the occasion, NPR’s Kelly McEvers reports. It was, she said on Morning Edition, a “quiet, small ceremony.”
“The U.S. Forces-Iraq flag was furled — or wrapped — around a flagpole and covered in camouflage,” The Associated Press says. “It will be brought back to the United States.” – NPR News.
A portion of the President’s speech to troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina just returned from Iraq:
“All of you here today have lived through the fires of war. You will be remembered for it. You will be honored for it — always. You have done something profound with your lives. When this nation went to war, you signed up to serve. When times were tough, you kept fighting. When there was no end in sight, you found light in the darkness.
And years from now, your legacy will endure in the names of your fallen comrades etched on headstones at Arlington, and the quiet memorials across our country; in the whispered words of admiration as you march in parades, and in the freedom of our children and our grandchildren. And in the quiet of night, you will recall that your heart was once touched by fire. You will know that you answered when your country called; you served a cause greater than yourselves; you helped forge a just and lasting peace with Iraq, and among all nations.
I could not be prouder of you, and America could not be prouder of you.”
A full transcript of remarks by the First Lady and President is available HERE.