06/07/2014 09:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Gratitude for D-Day's Fallen

The leader of the free world's recent trip to Normandy to celebrate peace after the D-Day invasion reminds me of my time there, taking in the sheer magnitude of the 9,387 white marble tombstones on a bluff overlooking the sea.

For those of us who saw the film Private Ryan, we got a glimpse of the bloodiest fighting on Omaha Beach. One Associated Press reporter reminds us of the scene 70 years ago with this imagery: "Paratroopers' corpses once hung from trees and medics dragged wounded soldiers from blood-swirled waves."

When I stood there at the gravesite years ago looking at the tombstones I felt deep gratitude for these men -- many just boys -- who changed the course of World War II with their short lives.

With our eye on Normandy, I hope we'll all keep this image in mind -- those 9,387 white marble tombstones stretching farther than one's eyes can reach, a stirring testament of sacrifice.

Check out our inspiring video at