“Unbroken” in Life, This Legendary WWII Vet Will Remain Unforgotten in Our Memories

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Last Thursday morning I was waiting in a long ferry line to head out to a local island for the 4th of July when I heard a news report that Louis Zamperini had died of complications from a bout with pneumonia. If you remember, I had written about the book Unbroken, which detailed his life story from becoming an Olympic runner who competed in the Berlin Olympics in 1936 to joining the Army Air Corps during WWII flying in B-24s in the Pacific.

The book then also detailed how he and three other crewmen survived nearly two months in a life raft drifting westward across the expanse of the Pacific into Japanese held territory. They were eventually captured by the Japanese, and Louis then survived over two years of brutal treatment in several Japanese POW camps.

Louis Zamperini was a man of real substance and character. He was born with a fighting spirit and with a winner’s determination. He was a man whose makeup was that of courage, endurance, mental toughness and, in the end, of great moral character. What he did and survived during his life, the way that he lived it at every stage is a model for all of us. His life can teach us a lot about what it means to be a man, a good, even noble human being.

“What he did and survived during his life, the way that he lived it at every stage is a model for all of us.”

His book should be common reading in schools, so that young people, indeed any one of us, who feel challenged by the difficulties of life can see that it is possible not only to get through those things, but to come out on the other side a stronger and more valuable than we ever thought we could. He is an inspiration to those who have endured the realities of war as well.

Mr. Zamperini was not a famous man, he was not rich and did not have such ambitions. Louis Zamperini was a simple man from a working-class background who simply worked hard, who faced his life and all that it dealt out to him with great character, a positive attitude, and with admirable courage. He says a lot to us about what we are capable of as human beings. For me, he is the definition of a real hero. He gave his all, over the course of his entire lifetime.

God bless and keep Louis Zamperini. RIP good soldier. We will be thanking you for a long time to come. I encourage you all to read Unbroken.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.