Being back here with the last of our troops exiting Iraq reminds me that the courage and skill shown by our GI's in this long and bitter conflict was incomparable.
Tasked by our government to invade this ancient and angry land, they made short shrift of Saddam Hussein's army.
Organized resistance evaporated quickly. But the giddy celebration after the dictator's government fell, was soon replaced by anxiety. When looters we called Ali Baba's began tearing apart Baghdad shortly after our triumphant March 2003 invasion, we hoped it was just an exuberant display of long-suppressed freedom from tyranny.
But then the anarchists morphed into guerrilla fighters whose favorite weapons were booby traps.
From 2003 to 2007, those improvised explosive devices (IED's) terrorized our forces and those of us covering them in action. Walking or driving around became a perennial near death experience.
The feeling that at any moment the ground could blow up under our feet is a dread I will never forget. Exceptional courage was required just to move around.
As our forces were disrupted by the infernal devices, which chopped up civilian and soldier alike, the insurgency grew in scope and power.
Shiite militias local to Iran and Sunni forces bankrolled by Saudi Arabia did all they could to prevent normalcy.
Iraq teetered on the brink of partition and utter chaos.
Under the worst conditions and against all odds our re-invigorated forces surged back into Iraq to re-win the war beginning in 2007.
For the next four years they helped forge a fragile democracy.
Will the democracy hold and be reasonably representative of Iraq's disparate people?
Will Iraq be grateful to the U.S. for our sacrifice, making its vast oil reserves freely available on world markets?
The answer to those questions will be what determines whether this war was worth the enormous cost.
Whether it really necessary in the first place is another, more painful question.
Sent in by Geraldo, while traveling with soldiers and his crew, to Kuwaiti