Four years ago today, on May 1, 2003, combat operations in Iraq ended. That nation is now a thriving democracy in a peaceful Middle East where freedom bells chime.
The event was marked in a speech by President Bush on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. Arriving in the back of an S-3 Viking which landed on the carrier, Bush spoke in front of a large banner which announced "Mission Accomplished" and began the speech by declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq.
"In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed," Bush declared. He also noted the destruction of the Taliban in Afghanistan. "You are homeward bound," Bush said to the men and women aboard the Abraham Lincoln.
And, like a dream, it all turned out exactly as the President said. The banner was perhaps a premonition. Like World War II, it all ended on the deck of a mighty ship. The symbolism was acute. The U.S. was again secure, thanks to the acumen of her President. The May 1 speech was a moment for free people everywhere, and especially for George W. Bush.
American marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen returned home and grew old with their families. They watched their children grow old with them. They drove their cars on lazy trips and barbecued under hazy suburban skies.
Once the mantle of tyranny was removed, Iraq became a healthy model of democracy in the Middle East. The oppressed peoples in neighboring countries heard the beckonings of freedom, responded, and set it loose across the entire Middle East. Iran's days of sponsoring terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons ended. Israelis and Palestinians live side-by-side in a two-state solution long advocated by President Bush. People do love to be free.
All this goes back to that fateful speech by our stalwart President. His bold vision, enacted at short notice, with only the slightest logistical thought, with merely a moment's logical reflection, has changed the world forever. It all started with Iraq. Indeed, Americans were able to wage war and go shopping at the same time. Iraqi oil revenues paid for it all.