Iraq War Was Brought to a 'Responsible End,' Obama Says
The war was officially declared over on Dec. 15
Barack Obama announced that the last troops left Iraq early Sunday morning, bringing to an end the nine-year operation just days before the Christmas holiday.
Close to 500 soldiers crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait. It marked the largest U.S. military drawdown since the Vietnam War.
Much like Vietnam, the war was not waged without great cost. The Department of Defense said that 4,487 service members were killed. More than 30,000 were wounded.
"As we honor and reflect on the sacrifices that millions of men and women made for this war, I wanted to make sure you heard the news," said President Obama in an email. "Bringing this war to a responsible end was a cause that sparked many Americans to get involved in the political process for the first time. Today's outcome is a reminder that we all have a stake in our country's future, and a say in the direction we choose."
Ending the war, started by George W. Bush when Iraq was believed to have weapons of mass destruction in its possession, was one of Obama's central campaign promises.
Some of the ceremony Sunday was in part symbolic; some 4,000 soldiers will remain to help the nation rebuild.
"All of them -- our troops, veterans, and their families -- will always have the thanks of a grateful nation," said President Obama.