I recently returned from a visit to the U.S. Military Cemetery at Normandy on the northern coast of France. The cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach where U.S. forces landed on D-Day — June 6, 1944.

It was the beginning of the European invasion and the ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany. Several thousand U.S. military personnel made the supreme sacrifice that fateful day. Many died in the surf or on the beach before they were able to fire a single shot at the enemy. The water and sand turned crimson with their blood as they had little cover from the German soldiers firing on them from above.

More than 9,000 of those American heroes are buried and their gravesites located on emerald green grass and marked by row after row of white marble crosses as far as you can see. It is truly an emotional and overwhelming experience to walk this hallowed ground.

I wish every American could visit this historical place, particularly those NFL players who have chosen to disrespect the flag during the presentation of colors and playing of the national anthem. That is certainly their right thanks to the sacrifices made by those on Omaha Beach. But this is not the proper venue to articulate their anger and frustrations.

Rather than advancing their agenda, they have created a backlash of public opinion. We should seek to find a common ground to develop solutions to overcome these problems that continue to divide us. Only when the bonds of racism are broken can we truly become one nation undivided.

— Jack Balfanz, Bakersfield