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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

Don’t Give Up; Don’t Give In

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

The late Louis Zamperini, the subject of the movie “Unbroken” was an amazing man. Maybe we can’t all be as accomplished as was Louis. But in his last years, he offered some great advice which should be useful to everyone. If everyone took these lessons to heart... no, if even a third of the people did, this would be an infinitely better world.

This essay is available in its entirety to all visitors. Enjoy!

The late Louis Zamperini, the subject of the recent movie, “Unbroken,” was an amazing man. Maybe we can’t all be as accomplished as was Louis. But in his last years, he offered some great advice which should be useful to everyone. The book that he completed just before his death in 2014 is “Don’t Give Up; Don’t Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life.

Much of this is not new. But that it comes from a man as heroic as Louis Zamperini makes it worth serious contemplation. I don’t think I am giving away too much here by sharing portions of the Table of Contents. The story behind each of these topics adds depth to their significance.

Please take a few moments to look over and think about these topics. Remember, these come from a guy who was stranded on a rubber raft in the Pacific for 47 days and then brutally tortured in a Japanese prison camp for two years.

Think about these, and then consider buying the book. Better yet; buy a copy for your kids, your parents, your siblings... anyone for whom you wish success and happiness.

What a great graduation present this would be.

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The books are available in hardback, electronic form, audio, and paperback; both new and used.

Run for Your Life

The family rules

  My father had a rule: We pay our bills first and then we eat. We all need a code of ethics to guide us, especially in tough times when everyone has to do their part for the greater good, for the family or the group to survive.

Anyone can turn their life around;
The difference between attention and recognition is self-esteem

  I’ve had many years to wonder why I caused so much mischief and I come to the conclusion that what I really wanted was recognition. That’s not the same as wanting attention. Attention comes and goes usually quickly. Recognition lasts longer.

It’s not how you win it’s how you lose
A race isn’t over until it’s over

Be Prepared

Preparation determines your survival
Trust what you know
Keep your mind sharp

  Every day we put our brains through their paces, but the older we get the more it’s necessary. You have to stay active. Engage with others; don’t sit and vegetate in front of the television. Move your body; use your head.

Don’t forget to laugh

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In

You are the content of your character
Never let anyone destroy your dignity

  The great lesson of my life is perseverance. Never give up. It’s like my brother said, “Isn’t one minute of pain with a lifetime of glory?” I wasn’t reaching for glory at the prisoner of war camp. I just wouldn’t give the camp commander the satisfaction of destroying my dignity. Don’t let anyone take yours away, either.

Hate is a personal decision
The true definition of hero

Attitude is Everything

You must have hope
Don’t ask why; ask what’s next

  Now I’m 97 years old. Am I surprised that I’m still here when most of the people I knew are gone – most of my friends, buddies from the war? Sure. But I don’t feel guilty and I’m not lonely. My attitude is to just accept it. It is what it is. Instead of getting all caught up in asking why, I ask what’s next? that’s all you have to know.

You choose how to view your fate
The secret of contentment

  When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned he said, “Whatever situation I find myself in, I have learned thereby to be content." In more modern words it means that while you can’t always control what happens in life, you can control your reaction to it.

To be content, you have to accept everything. If you can make that attitude part of who you are, then nothing can bother you. It might be tough at first; but soon it becomes a habit.

After the War — Still Lost

You can’t run or sail away from yourself
Don’t leave the crucial details to others

There’s Always an Answer to Everything

You need a cloud to have a silver lining
Know when you’ve done all you can do
The Gangster and the Gospel

Give Back

Accomplishment is the key to self-respect

What I’ve Learned

Challenge yourself
Learn to adapt
Commitment and perseverance payoff
You’re only as old as you feel

Lessons of the Olympic Spirit

It’s about people
You have to train to carry a torch
Forgiveness is the healing factor

Remember Me This Way

A charitable heart

Louie’s Life – in Short

Son of poor Italian immigrants, Louie was a troubled and troublesome kid. His life was set on course by his older brother, who helped him focus his energy on his God-given talent: running.

By the time he graduated from high school, he was a star. In college he prepared for the 1936 Olympics, where he notably excelled. He was on the way to breaking the 3-minute mile mark when WWII changed his plans.

Louie’s plane crashed in the Pacific and he nearly drown. He, and two other crew members, were stranded on two rubber rafts. They drifted for 47 days over 2,000 miles before being rescued... by the Japanese.

A sadistic prison camp commander picked on Louie because of his notoriety and tortured him relentlessly, hoping Louie would break and make propaganda statements for Japan. Louie did not break.

After the war, Louie’s fame brought him great attention and access to all the evils of fame... in which Louie heartily partook. But at everything he tried, he failed. Louie suffered terrible headaches and nightmares every night. He tried to drink his pain away. He failed at that, too.

This time it was an unknown preacher in a religious revival under a large tent that rescued Louie. The preacher was the Reverend Billy Graham. Louie found religion... and it turned his life around. After giving his life to God, the pain and the nightmares immediately stopped. Louie discarded all his bad habits. He started and ran several camps to help troubled boys... all over the world, and motivated millions of people by his amazing yet true success story. Louie carried his message every day... for the next 60 years.

Louie died as “Unbroken” was in the editing stage. He saw the movie before he died in the summer of 2014. He was 97.

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The Last Word

If everyone took these lessons to heart... no, if even a third of the people did, this would be an infinitely better world. This is what they should be teaching in schools today. But they are not. So it is up to the adults in the community to do so.

The adults — that’s us now.

You might start by taking some of his advice. Lead by example. Then, spread the word.

Buy the book. Read it. Pass it on.

And most importantly, live it!

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Louie’s other book is “Devil at My Heels,” his autobiography:

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This is the book on which the movie is based, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It is far more complete than can what is possible to portray in a 2-hour movie.

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Videos about Louis Zamperini

YouTube videos, subject to their availability:

The Louis Zamperini Story; 15 min,:

Louis Zamperini Inteview; 8 min,:

Louis Zamperini Documentary; 26 min.:

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