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Obama salutes Iraq war vets at White House dinner

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama leads guests to a toast as he hosts a dinner for members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb., 29, 2012.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a dinner on Wednesday night.

See images from the U.S. withdraw from Iraq at the end of 2010 and 2011.

AP reports: The president who opposed the Iraq war from its outset thanked those who fought its battles by sitting down to a candlelit meal with a small cross section of the million-plus who served there over the past nine years.

Looking out over a sea of dress uniforms sparkling with medals attesting to years of wartime strife, Obama told the gathering: "In a culture that celebrates fame and fortune, yours are not necessarily household names. You are something more: the patriots who served in our name. And after nearly nine years in Iraq, tonight is an opportunity to express our gratitude and to say once more, welcome home."

Rachel Maddow shares some video from Wednesday night's White House dinner honoring returning Iraq war veterans.