My book club is reading, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand this month. I finished the book a few weeks ago, but it's one of those books that sit in my mind and I believe has changed me, even if only a little bit.
This book is about Louis Zamperini, who before World War II, rose above adversity and trouble to become a National running champion and even participated in the Olympics. During WWII, he was in the Army Air Corps, flying in B-24's as a Bombadier. He was shot down in the Pacific Ocean and ultimately became a prisoner of war. I won't give too many more details because I don't want to spoil the story if you haven't read it yet.
This book came to me during a time that I've been working on a project called The War Letters, http://thewarletters.blogspot.com. I've been typing up my Grandparents' war letters that they sent each other while my Grandpa was enlisted in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He flew in a Mitchell B-24 Bomber as a Tail Gunner and Bombadier. My Grandpa was also shot down in the Pacific Ocean but he was rescued within a short amount of time.
Grandpa has been my hero since I was old enough to know who he was. He and Grandma always played an active role in my life and the life of my siblings as we lived close to them. I moved in with them when I was a teenager and with the exception of a few short months, I lived with Grandpa until 6 months into my marriage. Reading this book took me away to the 1940's, I thought about my Grandpa while reading this book and I imagined what he must of been like in his 20's when he was fighting in the war.
Unbroken also helped me view life differently than how I've been looking at it lately. Louis Zamperini was able to forgive those that almost killed him, he was able to stay alive in situations that killed many of those around him. He is a fighter and he motivated others to keep on living. Mr. Zamperini came to understand that "Life was cheap in a war." However, he understood to his core that each one of us is a gift from God.
I have never been a religious person, but I've always been spiritual. Even though religion has rarely appealed to me, I understand how some people need religion in their lives so they can make sense of the universe and their place in it. I know there is a higher power that resides within each one of us, and that's the only thing I've needed to feel love for others and to understand the things that have happened to me.
My Grandpa became religious sometime after the war, but he told me on numerous occasions growing up that it didn't matter what church you believe in or if you went to church at all. There are only two things in this world that matter, believing in something greater than yourself, and service to others. This settles strong into my core and spirit more than anything I've ever come across.
When Mr. Zamperini left the war, he was bitter, angry, resentful. His life would never be what it was again. He was at a point where there was no hope left in his life. Then something happened to him, which I'll leave for you to find out on your own, but there was one passage that moved me which I want to share with you:
"At that moment, something shifted sweetly inside him. It was forgiveness, beautiful and effortless and complete. For Louis Zamperini, the war was over."
Each of us lives with our own war, our own 'internal struggle', but by looking outside of our internal struggles to help and forgive others, we can then grow into the people we are meant to be. If you get the opportunity, please read this book and share it with others. I'm certain if you open your heart while reading it, you will be touches as much as I was.Get it here: