An Olympic Sprinter Who Survived 47 days on a Raft in the Pacific

Louis Zamperini set the world record for surviving at sea when he was shot out of the sky in 1944 and lasted 47 days on a raft.  This alone might qualify the man for fame, but his story was the stuff of legend and he even wrote two books about his life.  Today’s WSJ reviewed a new book called “Unbroken”  about his remarkable life that’s lasted 93 years so far.

Zamperini also made it to the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, one of his sprints so impressed Adolf Hitler that he was called to his box and forced to shake his hand (“their fingers barely touched”‘)

These two feats make a good fat book, (three, in fact) but there is more to the story. When the war hero came home after enduring two years at a Japanese prisoner of war camp outside of Tokyo, he was enveloped in a rush of publicity. He became an alcoholic and was saved in 1949 through the ministry of Billy Graham.   He became a famous Christian inspirational speaker and a highlight of his life came in1998. That year he took a turn as a torchbearer for the Olympic flame in Nagano Japan.  

A quote in the book is telling–he disputes General McArthur’s dictum that old soldiers never die, they just fade away. “Fade away?” asked the 93-year-old. “You should make your life count right up to the last minute!”