Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Normandy region of France. It gave me a new perspective of what happened during the WWII freeing of France by the Allies. Specifically, we walked the Omaha and Utah beaches. We witnessed the cliffs that seemed impenetrable and saw the stone and cement bunkers where the German army positioned itself. I saw the bomb craters that were as big as several houses and still incredibly deep that covered the terrain of the battlefield. I walked in the cemetery where over 10,000 of our teenage and young adult men are buried. These were the American battle fields. I know that the other beaches named Sword, Juno and Gold held the same incredible sacrifice of lives by the British and Canadian forces.

As we traveled the countryside and visited the small towns around the Utah and Omaha beaches, I consistently saw the American flags flying in homes and in the towns. As we came in contact with home owners and residents, they consistently would thank us for the part our country played in securing their freedom. Over and over they assured us…"we will always remember what your country did for us".

Their sentiments caused me to pause. The sacrifice and leadership of the Greatest Generation is truly amazing and inspirational. Their commitment, loyalty and love for their country and for others was evidenced by their unyielding sacrificial actions.

It appears that in our divided culture of the present, we spend a lot of time and effort trying to forget or reinvent our past. While our past as a nation or as individuals, contains both positives and negatives, it also contains valuable lessons of life and love. Perhaps we should learn from our French friends who are committed to remembering and moving forward with respect and appreciation for those brave men and women who have gone before us.

When we choose to remember, with more honesty and less judgment, the past sacrifices that formed our nation, we will make a difference.