In what was described as a muted ceremony by CNN on Thursday, the United States officially marked the end of the Iraq War.
With so many men and woman coming home now, one has to wonder what the legacy of the years-long conflict will be. For the Iraqi people, it will be most likely looked at as a jumping off point. For some veterans, the legacy could end up being one of something that was life-changing, initiated by deception.
When the United States first entered Iraq in 2003, it was part from the claims made public by then president George W. Bush that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We eventually found out, of course, that there were no weapons of that kind. So the legacy of the Iraq War could be something horrible based on a lie.
From the point of the veteran, the war may have given us the feeling of being expendable. According to Sky Valley Chronicle, nearly 4,500 American men and women lost their lives in this war, not counting the ones that made it out alive with debilitating injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
Look at the America that they will come home to. The epidemic of unemployment is rampant, and it seems it almost takes an act by presidential mandate to give veterans the opportunity to get a job when they get home. $800 billion was spent in Iraq, and I am pretty sure that very little of it had been spend on programs to reintegrate the soldier back into civilian life.
My opinion is this: The legacy of the Iraq War will be one of deception and selfishness borne on the backs of the soldiers that fought it. People profited from this war no doubt. In a quote from USA Today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the lives lost in this war "were not lost in vain."
Maybe if when everyone finally gets back home, if we as a country finally start treating military veterans with the honor that they should get instead of being thrown the scraps, possibly that quote can carry more truth. If we look at what happens to our military after they come home, hopefully we will be far more careful with what we send them to do.
Dan Rackley is a U.S. Navy veteran.