Washington, Dec. 20 -


Mr. Speaker, just about sunrise in the desert of the sun and the valley of the gun, the last American troops left Iraq. It was this past Sunday, December 18, 2011. It has been 8 years, 7 months, and 24 days since the war began. The Americans are coming home by Christmas. Mission accomplished.

4,474 Americans gave their lives, and thousands of others were wounded. The last American casualty was Army Specialist David Emanuel Hickman from North Carolina, killed November 14. These Americans died in a land they had never been for a people they has never known.

The Americans have liberated Iraq from a dictatorship. To apply Ben Franklinís statement on the founding of America: We have given the Iraqis a free country; letís see if they can keep it or not.

The choice and responsibility for Iraq is now with Iraq, but we here in America shall remember those who served and returned, those who served and did not return, and those who served and returned with the wounds of war. As one wounded trooper said yesterday: ìThe worst casualty of war is to be forgotten.î

And thatís just the way it is.