Obama marks end of Iraq war by visiting soldiers at Fort Bragg

President Obama marked the end of the nine-year war in Iraq with a visit to Fort Bragg on Wednesday welcoming the troops home and telling them that they have contributed to what he called a “moment of success.”

Appearing on stage with first lady Michelle Obama at a base that has seen its fair share of heartache — 202 of its own soldiers never returned — the president said the troops were putting an end to “one of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military.” He congratulated the soldiers for leaving behind a “stable, sovereign” Iraq.

“This is an extraordinary achievement nearly nine years in the making,” Obama said to troops at the North Carolina base. “Your will proved stronger than the terror of those who tried to break it.”

{mosads}Obama, who vowed to end the Iraq war as a candidate, noted its “heavy costs,” including more than 30,000 wounded troops and the nearly 4,500 who made what he called “the ultimate sacrifice.”

“There is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long,” Obama said. “Since then, our efforts in Iraq have taken many twists and turns. It was the source of great controversy here at home … but there was one constant: Your patriotism, your commitment to fulfill your mission, your abiding commitment to one another … that did not waiver.”

All troops will be leaving Iraq by Dec. 31, but the U.S. has vowed to continue to assist the country.

Some Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) have criticized Obama for leaving Iraq, warning the country could fall into instability without the presence of U.S. troops. Other Republicans have echoed Obama in saying it is time to end the U.S. presence in that country.

The commander in chief vowed to stand by the troops in their transition back home, helping them get jobs and ensuring they have the resources they need.

“Part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who fought it,” he said. “Words are cheap. We must do it with deeds. You stood up for America. America needs to stand up for you.”

After arriving in Fort Bragg, Obama met with five service members who returned from Iraq and he spent time with a family who lost a loved one in the war.

During his address, Obama mostly avoided speaking about politics and the ongoing spending bill fight back in Washington. But toward the end of his speech, he did add, “Folks in Washington need to learn from you.”

“For all of the challenges that our nation faces, you remind us that there’s nothing we can’t do when we stick together,” he said. “You remind us there’s something bigger than our differences. You remind us that we’re one nation.”

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