Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

The author of "Seabiscuit" superbly tells of story of an Olympic runner who survived internment in a horrifying Japanese POW camp. He started life as a bit of a hellion, until his brother got him interested in running. He went to the Olympics in Berlin and from there his life was on a collision course with the evil that man can inflict upon his fellow man.

He got shot down in the Pacific theater and he and two others survived adrift, with almost no rations, longer than anyone else in the world had to that point. It was his misfortune to finally hit land occupied by the Japanese. From there his luck went from bad to worse.

His story is inspiring and uplifting even in spite of all the horrific events he endured. He reaffirms what I have heard from every ex-POW I ever had the privilege to hear speak or to meet. They endured through torture and deprivation not because of a love of life for themselves but for the following reasons: a love of country, a love for their fellow man, and a love of God.

The first former POW I ever met was a speaker at a church youth group in 1983. He survived years in Vietnamese prison camps and it strengthened his love of all three: country, fellow soldier and God. I was surprised that after returning home to a post Vietnam world that he chose to stay in the service. One would think that he would have gotten as far away as quickly as he could. Perhaps it was because the general public was so anti-military at the time, that he chose to stay in the service to be with those who understood all he had sacrificed; instead of managing a hardware store somewhere in Maintown, USA.

In 1987, when I was out at Ft. Sam Houston, TX my grandmother insisted I call upon a former colleague and friend of my deceased grandfather. I was just a young second lieutenant and I felt awkward calling a general officer and introducing myself. I was so glad I did however, he and his wife were charming and hospitable hosts. He survived the Bataan Death March. In the 1980s he was suffering from many medical issues that were a direct result of his internment as a POW. Powerful stuff for a young Army nurse to hear, and it certainly provided meaning to the job.

Some stories stay with you because they are so true and so powerful. The truly powerful lives are not ones that are led for one's own glory, but for others. Louie Zamperini returned to the States and after more hardship served as a guide for at-risk youth, which is what he perceived himself to be before his life got formed. An inspiring story about an inspiring man.

1 comment:

  1. I still remember going with you to visit the General. He made a big impression on me too.