"On the one hand," he said, "I'm glad America is reaching a closing point on the war. On the other hand, I have a lot of concern about the future of Iraq."

Tracy Miller, whose son was killed in Fallujah in 2004, said she was "delighted" that U.S. troops will be leaving Iraq. The Towson woman has protested the war at the same time she has helped establish a center for veterans at Towson University, with a full-time veteran services coordinator and "thank you" grants for students who have served since Sept. 11, 2001.

"I think we should never have gone in in the first place," said Miller, the mother of Marine Cpl. Nicholas L. Ziolkowski and an instructor at the university.

"I think about the more than 4,000 [U.S. troops] who were killed in Iraq — my son, of course, among them — and, you know, I read the obituaries, and all of them seem like wonderful people who, had they lived, might have made a difference in the world."

Cardin tallied the costs of the war.

"More than 4,700 Americans and allies — including 72 Marylanders — gave their lives," he said. "Nearly 32,000 were wounded, more than $800 billion were spent, and the sacrifice of the families waiting and worrying at home has been immeasurable."

Casey said it was too early to assume the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq. He anticipates a permanent presence in the future, as in Germany and South Korea.

"As the president described, there was the hope of Iraq becoming a normal partner, instead of a wartime partner," he said. "This probably doesn't mean we won't have that opportunity down the road."

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