In his Saturday radio address, President Obama said US troops returning from Iraq offer lessons about the nation's character. In their address, Republicans said troops are most concerned about finding a good job.
"There's a reason our military is the most respected institution in America," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "They don't see themselves or each other as Democrats first or Republicans first. They see themselves as Americans first.
"For all our differences and disagreements, they remind us that we are all a part of something bigger, that we are one nation and one people."
Obama marked the end of the Iraq war earlier in the week, meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in advance of the last American troops leaving Iraq by Dec. 31. The withdrawal caps a war in which nearly 4,500 Americans were killed, about 32,000 were wounded and hundreds of billions of dollars were spent.
"Our troops are now preparing to make their final march across the border and out of the country," Obama said. "Iraq's future will be in the hands of its own people."
The president met with troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Wednesday to discuss the end of the war and to honor the military's sacrifice. Obama opposed the war as a state lawmaker and then made ending the war in Iraq a key part of his 2008 presidential campaign.
Obama said the nation needs to enlist soldiers returning home in the rebuilding of the nation's economy, noting that his grandfather's generation returned home from World War II "to form the backbone of the largest middle class in history."
"This is a moment for us to build a country that lives up to the ideals that so many of our bravest Americans have fought and even died for," Obama said. "That is our highest obligation as citizens. That is the welcome home that our troops deserve."