Washington: US President Barack Obama urged
national unity today as he expressed his gratitude to troops
who fought the war in Iraq and welcomed them home at the end
of the war.
"Now it is up to us to serve these brave men and women as
well as they serve us," Obama said in his weekly radio and
"Every day, they meet their responsibilities to their
families and their country," he continued."Now it`s time to
meet ours - especially those of us who you sent to serve in
The president said political divisions and discord
should not stand in the way of progress in America.
"This is a moment where we must come together to
ensure that every American has the chance to work for a decent
living, own their own home, send their kids to college, and
secure a decent retirement," he said.
US forces formally marked the end of their mission in
Iraq with a low-key ceremony near Baghdad on Thursday.
The "casing of the colors" near the airport, the first
site the US occupied in Baghdad in 2003, came with around
4,000 US soldiers still in Iraq, all of whom will depart in
the coming days.
After that, all that will remain are 157 soldiers
under the authority of the American embassy in Iraq, a country
where there were once nearly 170,000 troops on more than 500
The withdrawal ended a war that left tens of thousands
of Iraqis and nearly 4,500 American soldiers dead, many more
wounded, and 1.75 million Iraqis displaced, after the US-led
invasion unleashed brutal sectarian fighting.
Obama called the end of the war in Iraq "an
extraordinary achievement" that was made possible by the hard
work and sacrifice of US troops, arguing that it was time for
the nation to address the needs of these veterans.
"After years of rebuilding Iraq, it is time to enlist
our veterans and all our people in the work of rebuilding
America," he said.