I just finished watching the 10-part WWII miniseries “Pacific” for the third time. I’ve also watched “Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers” multiple times. Each time I am in awe when I see what suffering, dying and horrors our Greatest Generation went through so I can sit on my patio and sip coffee in the sunshine. Their sacrifices saved our nation from pure evil. We can’t really wrap our minds around what these men went through.

On a dive excursion to the Palau Islands, I took a day off diving just to tour Peleliu. I stood on the airstrip on that Island of Peleliu, one of the most brutal battle sites of the Pacific war. The temperature stood over 95 degrees, and stifling humidity suffocated me. My clothes were drenched in sweat. I just stood there and thought, “my God, men fought, died, and suffered in this environment … for me. We took 7,919 total casualties, including 1,460 young Americans killed in that month long battle.

Before I took that trip to the Pacific, I had the privilege of interviewing Richard Small (deceased), former coach and athletic director of Defiance College. He survived that battle, wounded twice, and he shared with me his personal experiences. He told me he landed on Orange Beach 3, and I made sure I stood on that beach where many died. I was emotional standing there as I realized that our young men did what they did so I could sip coffee on my patio bathed in the sunshine of freedom.

Last night as I watched the closing credits of “Pacific”, a sadness swept over me. The state of our current nation’s decline jabbed me in the ribs. I saw our nation disrespect these men as it descends into a trash bin of division. It’s like everything the Greatest Generation accomplished for us is now irrelevant and meaningless. “For The People, By The People” has become irrelevant. Good has become bad; bad has become good. Our schools and the Constitution are crumbling. Our cities are quickly turning into killing fields.

I apologize to those few remaining heroes who fought and suffered for us to give us freedom and a way of life envied by the world.

Yet we ignore what they did and continue to self-destruct. It’s very sad when we know what we could accomplish as a nation, yet, like lemmings, we drive ourselves over the cliff.

I think I’ll sip a cup of coffee on my patio.

Dennis Wisniewski

Stryker

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