Chart of the day: Troop levels

_57324404_us_troops_iraq_624Seeing this chart today almost brought me to tears. The war in Iraq is over. Thats Mission Accomplished on the very left side, and the last troops now coming home within days. We cased our flag in Baghdad. President Obama has honored the status of forces agreement created under President Bush, while also honoring his biggest promise to the American people.This war raised so many new moral questions, from the epochal atrocities at Abu Ghraib to more quotidian challenges, such as whether its emotionally too confusing, even traumatic, for young children to Skype with Mommy in Baghdad (a poignant event I have witnessed firsthand).Aspects of the war will be debated and lamented for a long time, and rightly so. But when we look at this chart, and acknowledge that the numbers on the left are hundreds of thousands of people, I think we can agree that families reunited for the holidays is cause for joy--and peace.

Michael Peppard is associate professor of theology at Fordham University and on the staff of its Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. He is the author of The World's Oldest Church and The Son of God in the Roman World, and on Twitter @MichaelPeppard. He is a contributing editor to Commonweal.

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