Tony Davis still has flashbacks of being surrounded by Iraqi soldiers. Robert Jackson vividly remembers when his roommate was killed five years ago.
The two are among hundreds of thousands of troops who have served in Iraq since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003. Tomorrow, President Obama will officially announce the end of what has been a long and costly war. For some, like Davis and Jackson, the milestone brings slight relief, but others consider it long overdue.
“I can finally at least unclench my fists a little bit,” said Jackson, a 40-year-old West Philadelphia resident, who was discharged in 2006. “Now I can rest … with the fact that my brothers and sisters are no longer in danger on a day-to-day basis.”
Davis, 46, a retired sergeant, said, “I feel pretty numb to the whole situation. We lost soldiers over there that are not coming back.”
Like many soldiers, both Jackson and Davis have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and will never be the same.
For Celeste Zappala, who opposed the war from the start, tomorrow’s news will not be enough. She points to the troops who are in Afghanistan and the 50,000 still in Iraq.
“Certainly we’re headed in the right direction, but … Afghanistan becomes the continuation,” she said.