December 15, 2011
The US Forces Iraq colors are lowered before being encased in a ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Dec., 15, 2011. The ceremonies mark the official end of the US military mission in Iraq. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
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After nearly nine years, 4,500 American dead, 32,000 wounded and more than $800 billion, U.S. officials formally shut down the war in Iraq — a conflict that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said was worth the price in blood and money, as it set Iraq on a path to democracy.