Washington (CNN) - Just hours before the official end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Defense Secretary Robert Gates grew emotional when discussing the toll it has taken on American men and women in uniform.
"Today, at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 4,427 American service members have died in Iraq, 3,502 of them killed in action; 34,265 have been wounded or injured," Gates said, appearing to choke up before an audience at the American Legion convention in Milwaukee Tuesday. "We must never forget."
Gates also warned that while the U.S. military can point to many accomplishments there, all is not "well in Iraq."
"The most recent elections have yet to result in a coalition government. Sectarian tensions remain a fact of life. Al Qaeda in Iraq is beaten, but not gone," he said. "This is not a time for premature victory parades or self-congratulation."