FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama is marking the end of the Iraq war, telling troops that the U.S. is peacefully leaving behind a stable nation and closing "one of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military."
The president and first lady Michelle Obama are in Fort Bragg in North Carolina to pay tribute to the troops who fought and died in Iraq.
He notes that many of the soldiers at Fort Bragg were in grade school.
All U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq by December 31, though Obama has pledged the U.S. will continue to help Iraq.
"The war in Iraq will soon belong to history, and your service belongs to the ages," he said.
Obama highlighted the human side of the war, reflecting on the bravery and sacrifices of U.S. forces now on their way back home. He recalled the start of the war, a time when he was only an Illinois state senator and many of the warriors before him were in grade school.
The war, he said, took many twists and turns.
"We knew this day would come. We have known it for some time now," he said. "But still, there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long."
He noted the early battles that defeated and deposed Saddam Hussein and what he called "the grind of insurgency" -- roadside bombs, snipers and suicide attacks.
"Your will proved stronger than the terror of those who tried to break it," he said.