A war that began with “shock and awe” — a war that never should have begun in the first place — ended much more quietly today.
“BAGHDAD — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta paid solemn tribute on Thursday to an “independent, free and sovereign Iraq” and declared the official end to the Iraq war, formally wrapping up the U.S. military’s 8-and-a- half-year mission in the country.
“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 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. ”
The final U.S. death toll was 4,487, with roughly 4,000 of those fatalities occurring after the infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech. The last U.S. soldier to die in Iraq was David Emanuel Hickman, an Army specialist from Greensboro, N.C., killed Nov. 14 in an IED attack. Thirty thousand U.S. troops were wounded in the war.
More than 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives as well, a death toll that will undoubtedly continue to grow as various factions in Iraq continue to battle for power. However, the fate of their country now lies with Iraqis, as it should and must.
– Jay Bookman