100-Year-Old Veteran Breaks Down in Tears Recalling How Great America Used to Be


Editor’s Note: The following is one of the Western Journal’s most popular patriotic-themed stories, re-posted in honor of Independence Day.

We recently learned that a decorated World War II veteran we previously wrote about has since died. He was a true hero, and we want to remember him for his incredible final TV interview reminding us that America is worth fighting for.

Retired Marine Carl Spurlin Dekle of Plant City, Florida, died Aug. 9, 2022, two months after his 100th birthday.

The poignant and haunting interview he did in July 2022 with WTVT-TV in Tampa, Florida, should serve as a wake-up call for why we must reverse the troubling deterioration of the nation for which Dekle and so many other veterans valiantly fought and died.

The recipient of the Silver Star Medal for Gallantry in Action said looking back, he was grateful because “I’ve lived a good life, meaning I’ve had a lot of happiness.”

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The devout Christian, who was predeceased by his first wife of 50 years and their only child, according to his obituary, remained an unwavering optimist until his death.

“I sincerely believe in this whole world [that] everything is beautiful,” Dekle told WTVT last summer.

“If I wake up in the morning and see these plants out here in nature, and all those flowers that are in there and the green grass on the ground, that’s beautiful,” he said.

However, the war hero lamented that people often take the simple things in life for granted. “People don’t realize what they have,” Dekle said.

One of the things that distressed him in his final days was that the United States was imploding — so much so that it made him question whether the sacrifices he and other World War II veterans made had been worth it.

Is this 100-year-old veteran right? Have we fallen from our former glory?

“Nowadays, I am so upset that the things we did and the things we fought for and the boys that died for it, it’s all going down the drain,” he said. “Our country’s going to hell in a handbasket.”

Dekle said the nation had devolved so drastically that he no longer recognized it.

“We haven’t got the country we had when I was raised. Not at all,” he said. “Nobody will have the fun I had. Nobody will have the opportunity I had. It’s just not the same.

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“And that’s not what our boys, that’s not what they died for … It’s just not the same. That isn’t what we fought for.”

At that point, the centenarian broke down in tears over the destruction of the country for which he and his brothers-in-arms had put their lives on the line.

After being comforted by someone in the room, Dekle quickly put on a happy face and reminded her that life is beautiful and worth living.

“You just remember everything’s beautiful. And live every day to the fullest,” he said.

“Just enjoy everything as much as you possibly can.”

Many Americans would agree that the U.S. is in a seemingly endless downward spiral because of the left’s toxic wokeness and catastrophic inversion of the values that made America great, such as hard work, self-discipline, accountability, patriotism and common decency.

Those ideals are being supplanted by divisive race-baiting, the fetishization of victimhood, a wholesale rejection of science, anti-Christian bigotry and a destructive reverse meritocracy.

Hopefully, heroes such as Carl Dekle are not remnants of a bygone era but will serve as inspiration for an even greater epoch of American exceptionalism.

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