In August 2001, I had the honor of visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.
Initially established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 as the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, the site now contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations.
I will never forget that experience. Although it is difficult to describe the rush of emotions one has standing on such sacred ground, in the presence of those white crosses and American flags waving in the crosswinds of the English Channel, I can say that the place has a profoundly holy quality and seeing it in person changed my life forever.
On this Memorial Day, please join me in remembering the service and sacrifice of those brave men and women who gave their lives to this nation and the cause of freedom.
For in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, it is "from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
As Americans, let us never forget the sacrifice of these heroes.