"Four years ago, maybe 200 meters down here I was caught in an ambush," Maj. Gen. John Kelly told reporters touring the city.
Kelly was walking the streets without a flak jacket, and to Joe Dan Whorley, a medic badly wounded in Fallujah four years ago, that's a sure sign of success.
"You can't argue with a man taking his flak jacket off and walking through Fallujah," Whorley said. "That's a Marine for you right there.
Whorley and all the other fighting men and women who carried the rest of us on their backs have the most invested in the president's decision.
"My concern is honoring the mission that we got hurt and my marines died doing - and in order to honor that mission we need to complete it," he said.
Notice that Whorley, who's missing most of his left leg, didn't say he's concerned about making his own sacrifice seem worthwhile.
"It seemed worth it to me the day I got hurt. It seemed worth it the day afterward," he said.
Whorley watched the president's speech from his home in Georgia, where he's going to school.
John Borders, who was hit by a roadside bomb but is still in the army, watched with CBS News.
"My biggest fear was that we're gonna, we'll pull out too early. It's kind of scary. I don't want to leave and then have to go back," he said.
A Red Cross station in Fallujah has a sign outside saying it doesn't need anymore blood donations. But al Qaeda is hanging on in places like Mosul and U.S. military officers do not expect to meet their goal of getting all combat troops out of Iraqi cities by this June.
In the back of everybody's mind is the last time a president declared combat ending and troops coming home from Iraq.
That was more than 4,000 deaths ago.
"I don't want that to go to waste by being too hasty withdrawing. I feel like it's too hasty, to be honest with you," Whorley said.
And don't assume that withdrawal from Iraq means troops will be spending more time at home. With the buildup in Afghanistan just beginning, it will be at least a year before they get to see more of their families.