Ceremony in Baghdad marks the end of the Iraq War
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — In Iraq, it's finally over, and the last troops are coming home for the holidays.
The end of the war couldn't come at a better time for President Obama who has been hammered by economic problems here at home.
But today, nearly a decade after it started, the U.S. declares victory.
This morning Defense Secretary Leon Panetta participates in an "end of mission" ceremony at the Baghdad Airport, taking down the last U.S. flags which will mark the official end of this nine-year-old war. "I'm proud to finally say these two words, and I know your families agree. Welcome home! Welcome home," said President Barack Obama.
The president congratulated troops and thanked military families at Fort Bragg Wednesday. "You have the thanks of a grateful nation. . . We are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home," said The President.
From the first airstrikes, to the fall of Baghdad, and years of insurgent attacks, nearly 4,500 Americans lost their lives.
The U.S. brought democracy, but security is still a problem, and rebuilding is far from over.
Senator John McCain accused the president of ordering the pullout based on politics not national security, and criticized him for initially opposing the surge that led to victory. "History will judge this President's leadership with the scorn and disdain that it deserves," said Senator John McCain, (R) Arizona.
But today there is no failure but victory because the troops are finally coming home. "I'm just very happy that he's going to be here for Christmas," said The Wife of Returning Soldier.