Friday, May 27, 2011
Mesmerizing in its meticulous detail of the inhuman treatment of the Allied Prisoners of War under the Japanese, UNBROKEN, makes me understand why men who fought the Japanese were hateful over people buying Japanese cars in the late 70s in my hometown. I get it and now I'm sorry for how I felt then. UNBROKEN is the story of '36 Olymipics mile runner Louis Zamperini's quest for survival in the World War II of the Pacific. After his plane crashes Louis life seems unable to get any worse--until he and his raft-mate are captured by the Japanese. All new circles of Hell await. Like her previous book, SEABISCUIT, this is an intense, dramatic work of non-fiction that pulls the reader in and makes them feel a fraction of the pain the men in the story endure. I agree, though, with one reviewer on AMAZON, who says it was written with the future movie in mind--it does seem like that. I am puzzled, like yet another reviewer, about why no mention is made of Louis' memoirs which were published in 2003. That's nitpicking, though, and detracts from a story most Americans today need to hear to be reminded at what price our freedom has been secured.
Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini
This weekend is Memorial Day--a day we remember the veteran's of all wars. To my Grandmother's generation it was "Decoration Day"--the day Veteran's graves were tended, adorned with flags and flowers in grateful thanks. I remember proudly marching to the Cemetery in my small Illinois town one Memorial Day (probably 1970) proudly carrying the American Flag part way with my Girl Scout Troop. I was so proud of my Grandfather and his service in Europe in World War II. In College I recall going with my Grandmother and her 'little' sister to the Cemetery right off the campus to put up the same 48 star flag they had put atop their father's grave every year in memory of his not-quite service in the Spanish American War [he made it to Tampa, Florida just as the war was over]. Some day, somewhere, we will put a flag on the grave of my Grandmother's nephew for his service in Vietnam and his equally important work on PTSD in Vietnam Vets. Across the country, distant cousins remember their Grandfather's career in the Army Air Forces and later the Air Force--service that included piloting planes in World War II and in the Berlin Airlift.
UNBROKEN is a book for all Americans--and for others who owe their freedom to the men who fought the war. Note to Jeanne and Leonie--a heart-wrenching story of some of the Australian POWS who were with Louis is a story unto itself.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand