Wednesday, July 4, 2012

You are probably on Vacation this week if you are lucky enough to have a job that gives you a vacation. The Republicans and Mitt Romney will probably think you are greedy to have one. But, if you also want to do something somewhat patriotic, read a good book about a soldier, a true story, on your vacation you can enjoy on the beach perhaps because some guy fought for our independence. The book is called “Unbroken” and has a pretty good story associated with the author as well.
It is about a World War II soldier who is very much with us. Our current soldiers are just too broken to have a good feeling book. There are more suicides and mental trauma than ever with the Middle East warriors at home now. This book is about a soldier who is remarkable for what he has endured and his unbelievable positive mental attitude considering how he suffered. We can all learn how to cope from this soldier.
His name is Louis Zamperini and he teaches a lesson in patriotism and forgiveness. Being an athletic man, he carried the torch in 5 different Olympics and spent 2 years in a Japanese prison. He is now like most war veterans of that ere just another elderly man waving in parades except an angel bothered to write a book about his horrible war detail. She is Laura Hillenbrand and the book is called “Unbroken.”
Louis’s first fame became when he was a teen in 1936 where he made the United States Olympic teem in track. He was the youngest qualifier in the 500 meter race at 19 years old. He didn’t win, but still became a sports hero. When the war broke out, he became a pilot; a bomb dropping assignment in the Army Air Corp, and 69 years ago this month his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean.
He lost 2 engines, remembers the nose of the plane drop and saw his life raft floating and spent 47 days drifting in it surrounded by sharks. The people who still continue to put their lives into this kind of potential danger are either just crazy or just crazy brave but they are there in every war and they are there always fighting for our independence. Be grateful today.
Things went from bad to worse for him even after the constant worry of being shark bait to battling violent storms at sea. He was near death when he was captured by the Japanese and taken to a place known as Execution Island. The name speaks for itself. A place where every known prisoner was put to death. His fame back home led to hours of torture each day. This sounds like stuff from a cryptic horror movie but it was true.
When he wasn’t being beaten he was starved like most of the Americans by the Japanese. Animals don’t torture each other why do humans? Somehow he survived and returned home a hero. There were TV appearances but he was still haunted by nightmares and he turned to booze. In a last effort to save his marriage he attended Billy Graham prayer services and one night he was preaching about the power of forgiveness.
Once he was able to forgive his torturers Louis was able to move on with his life. He even went back to Japan to find the torturers, the prison guards who tried so hard to destroy him. He did that 61 years ago. Now he has become a celebrity all over again at book signings where people go to hear him and applaud him. The book is a bestseller and the author’s last book was also a bestseller, “Sea Biscuit” that was also made into a movie.
“Unbroken” took Laura Hillenbrand 7 years to research and write. It is surprising to learn that not once in all that time the author and subject never met. They would speak often on the phone and she would research and find details verifying everything he said. She suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and never felt healthy enough to meet him. She suffers from her condition and felt close to Louis because his story is largely about suffering as well.
She felt that not meeting him made her writing much better. While writing she visualized the handsome young man going through such torment; not talking to a 90 year old man. She saw the 17 year old runner or the 26 year old surviving on a life raft. As she got to know everything about him he knew nothing about her. Finally they met and there was a completeness about them. Find your sense of completeness and forgiveness and thank that old war hero this weekend. He still remembers the fight for your independence on this Independence Day.

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