Last spring break, my family went to Florida for a little warm break from the bitter cold. We stayed one night in Ft. Meyers at a hotel before we headed to our final destination. Because we were totally sun-deprived, itchy from our winter-induced dry skin, and nearly blind from our long hiatus indoors all winter (not really true, we do get out once in a while in short spurts) we ran, not walked, to the tiny, tiny little pool at the hotel and took it over from the one poor septegenarian who was calmly floating in what she thought was her little oasis. We couldn't help ourselves. We were outside! Out doors! It was Florida, our skin felt somewhat softer! There was a pool! Strangely, the dear woman exited the pool, maybe it was the full tsunami that hit her when four giddy girls jumped in...who knows, I only can guess.
I digress. Back to the book...wasn't that what i was talking about? I met a boarding school economics teacher from Massachusetts, who was reading the paper and was friendly and didn't seem to mind our chaos. We started up a conversation, and it turned out that I was reading a book about Pat Tillman (I think I already wrote about that) and that this boarding school teacher happened to LOVE military history. He told me that I ought to read Unbroken. After we came home from our trip, I ordered the book.
Of course, the story is an amazing one. I learned a new respect for the men who fought in WWII, for the sacrifices they made, for the dangerous things they encountered, for their willingness to give it all to fight off what seemed truly wrong in this world and for the broken men they came home as. Then, there was Louis Zamperini's story. It is breathtaking. Laura Hillenbrand's (who also wrote Seabiscuit--which I haven't read yet) ability to capture the width and breadth of this man's life is fantastic. I have heard that she has a condition that keeps her in her home and that all of her research on the book was done via letters, email and phone conversations. I don't know if this is true, even if it isn't she has done a remarkable job transcribing one man's astounding journey.
There are so many aspects of the book that I could write about. Louis Zamperini the Olympic athlete whose career was cut short, or the military prisoner or the military hero. He lived his life fully, whether it was by choice or as it was thrust on him. Early in the book (page 34 of the hardcover edition), is the statement that defines all of what is to come.
[Louie] found himself thinking of Pete, and of something
he said as they had sat on their bed years earlier:
A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.
One might argue that Louie didn't have just a moment of pain or that he hasn't had a lifetime of glory. I think he did. I think he now has the perfect vantage from which to speak about true glory and the boundaries of pain. I was supposed to go to a lecture given by Louis Zamperini two weekends ago with a friend. He wasn't able to make it because he was ill. I was hoping to hear more about his experiences of course, but mostly I was hoping to get a read on the bounty of goodness that has come out of such a well of pain. Perspective and hope. I know his story has affected lots and lots of people, I hope stories like his always get told, they are what is right with this world. So glad I read his story.