Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hometown Hero

Hi! Charlotte Carter here.
I don’t often make reading recommendations, but Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) is extraordinary. It is the story of Louie Zamperini, former juvenile delinquent, Olympic athlete, and survivor of World War II in the Pacific where he endured 27 months of daily beatings in a Japanese POW camp. Never once did his optimism falter.

His post-war struggles, PTSD, led him into alcoholism, poor financial decisions and the threat of divorce.

Then he met Billy Graham, who led him into redemption.

Graham had set up a circus tent in downtown Los Angeles. Louie’s wife cajoled him to go. The first time Louie walked out in a rage. But the second time Graham’s words touched him. Louie remembered his promise to the Lord when he and his B24 pilot floated helplessly in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days. He’d promised if he survived, he would spend his life serving the Lord.

The next morning, Louie woke feeling cleansed.

In the interest of full disclosure, Louie is a hometown hero in Torrance, CA where I live. My husband Chuck wrote a book about the Torrance Municipal Airport, which is now named Zamperini Field. Louie wrote the preface; Chuck considers Louie not only a friend but his role model.

Louie, still incredibly energetic on the cusp of his 95th birthday, finally gave up skate boarding around the age of 89. But he still works with at-risk teenagers, taking them skiing in the local mountains. Louie’s neighbors had to put a halt to him climbing a ladder to trim his trees; they didn’t want to call 911 if he fell.

Hillenbrand’s research for Unbroken, a 7-year long project involving hundreds of contacts, not only tells Louie’s story but encompasses details of the men who served with him and the incredible cruelty of Japanese POW guards.

But it is Louie’s redeeming faith that is most obvious in his life now.
Do you have a hometown hero or heroine you admire? Tell us about him or her.


Char.... said...

Good for your mother, Maryrose. Homeschooling 7 children takes more energy - and courage - than I could ever muster. Give her an extra 'atta girl' from me.


Char.... said...

Hey, Jackie, your mother must have been awesome! No wonder you admire her so much. Hugs for your loss. My mother has been gone a long time, and I still think - when something good happens to me - oh, I've got to call Mom.

To feel that way is very special, Jackie. Hold that close to your heart.