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Obama Speech Offers Opportunity for Healing

After seven long years of war, tens of thousands of American casualties, and hundreds of billions of dollars, President Obama last night announced the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. The president had promised to end combat operations in Iraq by August 31 and he kept his word.

The president’s words of praise for the men and women of the U.S. military were eloquent and heartfelt. But it was his commitment to use whatever resources are necessary to heal the wounds of war, both physical and emotional, that must have been music to the ears of Iraq veterans. Obama’s pledge stood in stark contrast to the treatment of veterans of the Vietnam War.

For the rest of us Mr. Obama’s praise for President George W. Bush and his candid admission that, as a U.S. Senator, Mr. Obama opposed the war was a healing moment: “As I have said there are patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it…but the greatness of our democracy is grounded in our ability to move beyond our differences…”

I hope conservatives who have shamefully challenged the patriotism of those who opposed the Iraq War took note of those words. The military heroes of this war are not honored by using the war for crass political purposes. The right’s manipulation of the war is both cynical and a gross injustice to those who served in Iraq.

President Obama did not, as many of his detractors suggested he would, shy away from the massive economic problems we face here at home. He called on all of us to tackle those problems, “with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform [have shown] abroad.”

For me the most moving passage from the president’s speech was this: “Those Americans who gave their lives…along with the 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq, fought in a faraway place for people they never knew. They stepped into the darkest of human creations – war -- and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace.” 

Well said, Mr. President.

Bob Beckel is a Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor.

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Bob Beckel currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The Five (weekdays 5-6PM/ET). He first joined FNC as a contributor in 2000 and rejoined in 2011 as co-host of The Five.