Louis Zamperini Receives Standing Ovation at JSerra

By Taelor Rian

Louis Zamperini, a World War II prisoner of war and 1936 Olympic hero spoke at JSerra Catholic High School as this years first Distinguished Speaker.  During the summer JSerra students read Unbroken, a book written by Laura Hillenbrand detailing the Veteran’s inspiring story, making Zamperini’s visit to the school a once in a lifetime experience.

Students, parents, Veterans, and residents from the neighboring community filled the Pavilion to hear Zamperini speak on some of his life changing experiences.

He explained how he credits his faith in God for his life journey walking the audience through the ups and downs he experienced as an American war hero during WWII and the nightmares of POW camps that haunted him for years.

“God had a purpose for me,” Zamperini said, stressing that the book and spreading his story was a big part of his calling.

Specially selected JSerra students participated in a Q&A segment during his visit.

When asked if retelling his story causes him to relive frightening memories, Zamperini replied that retelling his story is “the best thing to happen.”

“The more you talk about it, the less it bothers you,” he said.  “If talking helps other people, do it. Tell your story,” Zamperini emphasized to the crowd.

His son Luke Zamperini accompanies his father to most of his public appearances,

giving him the opportunity to see how his father’s speaking engagements has not only touched others, but has also helped his father.

“He is 95 years old and he can’t wait to get on stage,” Luke Zamperini said.

His father’s accounts of his struggle as a POW fighting for his life were Luke’s bedtime stories growing up. Now he has the pleasure of seeing the effects of lives changed by those same stories that touched him as a young boy.

“It’s so important to talk about your story,” he said.

A feature film based on the book, Unbroken is currently in the works.  The Zamperini’s say the film is in the pre-production phase with Universal.

Zamperini to Speak at JSerra Friday

Join JSerra in welcoming Louis Zamperini, as our first Distinguished Speakers Series guest, Friday, September 7 at 11 a.m. in the JSerra Pavilion.

Zamperini once a world record holder of the high school 5000-meter for the fastest time, and a graduate of the University of Southern California, joined the United States Air Corps as a bombardier in the South Pacific during World War ll.

“When you reach the end of your rope and there’s nowhere else to turn,” said Zamperini, “…you’re gonna turn and look up. So that’s all we did on the raft was pray morning, noon and night, [after our plane went down].”

Zamperini’s encouraging journey, has been documented in Pulitzer Prize winning author, Laura Hillenbrand’s latest book, UNBROKEN:  Louis Zamperini’s Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption.

JSerra Catholic High School Hosts Japanese POW Louis Zamperini to Speak About His Book Unbroken

A Press Release from JSerra Catholic

August 2, 2012 (San Juan Capistrano, CA)—JSerra Catholic hosts1936 Olympian, and former World War ll prisoner of war Louis Zamperini for a rare appearance.

Zamperini once a world record holder of the high school 5000-meter for the fastest time, and a graduate of the University of Southern California, joined the United States Air Corps as a bombardier in the South Pacific.

“When you reach the end of your rope and there’s nowhere else to turn,” said Zamperini, “…you’re gonna turn and look up. So that’s all we did on the raft was pray morning, noon and night, [after our plane went down].”

Zamperini’s encouraging journey, has been documented in Pulitzer Prize winning author, Laura Hillenbrand’s latest book, UNBROKEN:  Louis Zamperini’s Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption.

“Every summer as a school students, faculty, and staff read a book together, this year we read Unbroken, the journey of Mr. Zamperini and for the first time ever we have the honor of hosting him on the JSerra campus,” said Donna Vandenberg, JSerra VP of Student Services.

At 95-years of age, Zamperini is still spry and full of life.  He lectures audiences across the globe, on how to deal with stress, the meaning of Olympism, and the freedom he found through a personal relationship with God.

Friday, September 7, 2012 at 11 a.m. Zamperini will share his life’s journey and recent book Unbroken with the JSerra community. This rare speaking engagement is open to the general public and will be held in the JSerra Pavilion.