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Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin – Brief Remarks

Posted by Raul Barral Tamayo en Martes, 12 de septiembre, 2017


Copyright © 2014 by The Louis Zamperini Family Trust

Louis Zamperini lived one of the most amazing lives imaginable. As a young boy he was a troublemaker but his will to succeed drove him on to become an Olympian at the 1936 Games. With the outbreak of war, Louis volunteered for the army and was thrust into the violent combat of the Second World War as a B-24 bombardier. While on a rescue mission Louis’s plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean, leaving him stranded and drifting 2000 miles in a small raft for 47 days. Against all the odds he survived.

His struggle was just beginning: captured by the Japanese, Louis courageously endured torture in a series of prisoner-of-war camps for over two years. Not only did he survive this ordeal but he went on to spend the rest of his life helping others.

Completed just days before Louis’s death at age 97, Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In contains a lifetime of wisdom and humour. Louis shares the wonderful lessons he has learned during his life, previously untold stories, and inspirational insights on how he overcame adversity and found the courage to never give up and never give in.

Louis’s story has touched millions and will forever be one of the most inspiring examples of the great resilience of the human spirit.

Former Olympic athlete and WWII prisoner of war, Louis Zamperini, who died in July 2014, is the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s international bestseller Unbroken, which was made into a film directed by Angelina Jolie. Louis co-wrote his own memoir of his wartime experiences, Devil At My Heels.

David Rensin is the author of The Mailroom and All For a Few Perfect Waves. He has collaborated on bestselling books with such celebrities as Chris Rock and Tim Allen, and with Louis Zamperini on Devil at My Heels.

Comments extracted from the book, they could be right or wrong, you decide for yourself:

  • My goal was to be the first to break the four-minute mile barrier at the 1940 Tokyo Olympics.
  • We had little protection from the sun and, after our limited water ration ran out, fresh water only when it rained. But we did have one advantage: our minds. Thanks to the mental discipline I’d developed as a world-class athlete, and the wisdom I’d absorbed from a wise pshysiology professor at USC, I was able to keep sharp and help Phil do the same.
  • By then I had begun to do what everytone in a real or metaphorical foxhole does: I desperately asked God to intervene, saying, “I promise to seek you and serve you if you just let me live”.
  • He thought that if he beat me enough I’d make propaganda broadcasts for the Japanese. I never did.
  • Because I was an Olympian and a sports celebrity with an incredibly story, including having been declared dead by the Army, I got lots of attention. I can’t say I didn’t like it.
  • What I didn’t like was that I couldn’t find my place in the world and had what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To compensate for growing frustration and a desire to take revenge for the misery I’d been through, I drank too much, got into fights, had an inflated ego, and no self-steem. I also had constant nightmares about killing the Bird.
  • The hardest thing in life is to forgive. But hate is self-destructive. If you have somebody you’re not hurting the person you hate, you’re hurting yourself. Forgiveness is healing.
  • Mi life hadn’t ended with the war, or when I became a Christian. In fact, my most important life’s work had just begun: helping kids, telling my story, inspiring a positive attitude in others.
  • I’m inevitably asked three questions:
    1. What did you do after the war?
    2. What’s your secret for a good life?
    3. How does your faith play a role?
  • What I hope you’ll discover is that I’m just an ordinary man with faults who, when confronted with extraordinary circumstances resolved to not give up and not give in, to keep looking for answers, and to make my life count right up to the last minute.
  • I’m just a grateful survivor who realized I had something to give and became devoted to setting an example for toerhs by being prepared, by having the proper attitude, and by trying to inspire.
  • You can, too, in your own way, whatever your goal in life.
  • My father had a rule: We pay our bills first, and then we eat.
  • If we were short on money, I had to go out and shoot or catch something for dinner. It was a good lesson for all of us: pitch in and help. Everyone in the family knew that to survive we had to make sacrifices.
  • Looking back, I realize I also had a big problem with self-steem.
  • My English was so broken that my teacher told my folks that they had to speak English at home in order to help me. What’s funny is that now, years later, I’ve forgotten how to speak Italian.
  • They called me “the Brain” because I could always come up with ideas about how to get away with something.
  • When you fistfight, you never think about the real damage you might cause, or somebody dying. When I got up the next morning it bothered me how badly I’d beat up the driver. So much blood.
  • My parents and Pete were tired of the cops coming to the house. The chief of police and the school principal didn’t know what to do with me. And to tell you the truth, I didn’t much care, except for one thing: I didn’t want to be labeled a mental case.
  • Everyone decided to give me one more chance. I had to participate in school sports.
  • Afterward I realized I had to make a big decision: be a troublemaker or a runner? I loved the new recognition from running, but was it worth it? Yes. I began to train as diligently as I had caused mischief.
  • I’ve had many years to wonder why I caused so much mischief and I’ve 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. I’d begun to break the negative cycle by taking the first steps to building positive self-steem through hard work and accomplishments.
  • Positive self-steem mut be preceded by self-respect. To get self-respect you have to do something good.
  • The more I raced, the more they cheered. Because I knew how hard I had to work to win, I began to develop self-respect, and their in-the-moment attention turned into long-term recognition.
  • I always knew that eventually I’d lose a race. I often wondered how I’d act when that happened.
  • In my day, we competed for the love of the sport. Performance-enhancing drugs could be had, but no one wanted to win unfairly or damage their health. In my day, we patted the guy who beat us on the back, wished him well, and that was that.
  • I didn’t know it then, but my persistence, perseverance, and unwillingness to accept defeat when things looked all but hopeless were part of the very character traits I would need to make it through World War II alive.
  • It can seem overwhelming. But each circumstance can usually be broken into smaller, more manageable challenges that we might already be prepared to deal with.
  • Education is the mainstay of being prepared. Every high school should have a survival course. Just one class is all you need. A good hour.
  • Survival, in any situation, from the outdoors to the office, depends on education, preparation, and anticipation. You’ve got to think ahead.
  • Say there’s an earthquake or some other natural disaster. It’s good to always have a hardhat and a pair of heavy shoes. You’ve got to keep them r ight near your bed, and once a week just make note again of where they are. You should also put them on every couple of weeks to make sure they’re in good conditions.
  • Besides the water cape and shower cap, I keep a few things in my car at all times. A surgical mask, surgical gloves, leather gloves, a rockhound hammer, a tow rope, jumper cables, a tool kit, a water bottle, and toilet paper. Anything to help improve my chances.
  • You always have to think ahead. Always.
  • 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. Move your body. Use your head.
  • War is serious stuff. Life is, too. Laughter helps us make it through.
  • Anything that’s trying to kill you is your enemy.
  • I would do  what I had to do to survive.
  • During the two-plus years I lived in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps, I noticed that the soldiers who suffered the most were the ones who wouldn’t accept their situations. We needed all our meager strength and mental energy simply to get through the day. Those guys drained their personal resources by refusing to accept our (we all hoped) temporary lot.
  • The great lesson of my life is perseverance.
  • I wasn’t reaching for glory at Naoetsu. I just wouldn’t give the Bird the satisfaction of destroying my dignity. Don’t let anyone take yours away, either.
  • When I counseled troubled kids, I found that they had lots of serious hate: for their situations, sometimes their families, society, the rules, and often themselves. I knew from my own experience that there is a twisted kind of satisfaction that comes from hating. Hate destroys, but not the object of your hatred. It destroys you.
  • “Hero” is an easy word for people to use and maybe overuse. These days anyone who does anything that involves encountering danger is called a hero.
  • My family rules: You have to work for the betterment of everyone.
  • There’s the soldier who says, “Ah, the war’s gonna be over in three months”. If he keeps saying that, no matter if he’s right or wrong he has a good chance to survive mentally intact. But t he guy who sits back and says, “Yeah, you guys are a bunch of optimists. The war’s never going to end”, has less of a chance.
  • You must have hope. It rejuvenates your whole being. You can’t allow negative thinking, even if you know your changes are slim. The ability to envision the road to successful completion is what keeps you alive. Hope provides the power of the sould to endure.
  • I’ve been blessed with a long life of good health as a result of a beneficial lifestyle, a combination of exercise, diet, charity, and cheerfulness. At my age the best exercise is walking.
  • If you can’t control your attitude, forget it. You’re going to heal slowly or die young.
  • Having a positive attitude pays off in ways that you can’t even imagine, yet stay forever in your memory.
  • 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.
  • You must work willingly with what you have.
  • Acceptance creates cheerfulness, which in turn creates contentment.
  • When you get down to it, your reputation and character are all you have.
  • I became a victim of the war in the one pursuit that had always meant the most to me: running. I had to quit drinking to train.
  • The poverty we encountered in the Tres Marias Islands, their meager supplies and primitive conditions, were surprising and upsetting. It was easy to forget how good we had it in the United States and how poorly some of the rest of the world lived.
  • I wanted to inspire confidence and calm, but I wasn’t lying, either. What I didn’t say was that because we were so well stocked with fuel and food and drink, I could probably last forty-seven years, not that I wanted to encourage the idea.
  • Is there a moral to this postwar slice-of-my-life adventure story? Maybe more than one. First, a fool and his money are soon parted. Second, you can’t run away from your problems and responsabilities, because they’ll be waiting for you when you get back. Once I got home I slipped back into my old ways, and with the added responsability of a child looming, I grew more desperate.
  • Don’t leave the crucial details to someone you don’t know, especially when your life may depend on it.
  • There’s rarely a situation that a pretty woman can’t help fix.
  • I survived the war, but then I had to survive myself coming home form the war. I knew I was on the wrong path, but didn’t know what to do about it.
  • I’ve often been asked what the moment of transformation feels like. For me… I felt weighless. Suddenly calm. I was no longer fighting myself. And my burdens lifted.
  • I forgave him because the ability to forgive is a major result of my transformation. I still remember the facts, of course, but since then the violent emotions are gone.
  • I decided to preach less and instead just live my life as an example of my faith so that anyone could tell the difference between the past and present.
  • All major changes take daily work. It’s not happy magic all the time.
  • All you can do is plant the seed, wether it’s about faith, some life lessons, or setting an example, and water it by answering any questions you’re asked. The rest isn’t up to you.
  • I believe that in the end all things work together for good.
  • Somewhere inside each troubled young man, whether deep or near the surface, he wanted to open up to somebody who might actually listen. I saw it a thousand times: Getting the problem out in the open was a relief. It’s hard to hold something monumental inside yourself without it turning into anger and fear and resentment. Talking helped the boys reveal their hearts and souls. It lightened the load.
  • Was he having trouble with his family? Stealing? Cutting classes? Fighting? Of course, you can’t just start with “What’s your problem?”. You have to really listen. Listening is not a sign of weakness or of giving up your authority, it’s a sign of strength. You can’t fool kids, but they will talk if they trust you.
  • I resisted being judgemental; that only creates opposition. I might offer a little direction, but I never made decisions for my boys. The idea was to reach a point where they said, “Yeah, this is what I shoul do”. Then I’d try to help them do it.
  • Once the boys began to open up, the process didn’t stop with them realizing what to do that might help straighten out their lives. They needed a sense of direction. Goals. Just taking a bunch of kids to camp for a week is nice, but it’s not enough.
  • Most “delinquents” don’t accomplish a darn thing. They don’t finish what they start. They buy into the failure and feel sorry for themselves. They believe that’s their lot in life. I had to prove to them that they didn’t have to be that way.
  • I also sent the boys back with this message: “The main thing in life is to be able to accomplish something. You have one purpose now, and that’s to serve your time, be good, get out of that place, and go back and finish your high school education”.
  • For me, there’s no greater reward than seeing once frightened and unhappy boys change into strong citizens who lead positive lives.
  • No matter how old you are, don’t stop challenging yourself with new expiriences, but be smart about it, please.
  • Burnout is at least in part a responde to chronic unreleased stress. One way to deal with stress is to stay as active as you can, and burn off the burnout.
  • You have to learn to adapt. You can’t give up. You have to use unrelenting determination and exercise a positive attitude.
  • It’s like I always say: You can’t just talk about how you live your life. You have to live it.
  • Letter: “I now know the measure of a man is based on how he lives his life each day, and what he contributes rather than takes from society. Thank you, Mr. Zamperini”.
  • This is the great lesson of my life: Never give up. If you’re on the right track, stay on that path until you’ve finished.
  • Don’t shortchange yourself in the effort department, no matter how tough it is. We can’t all be champions, but we can give whatever is in us to give.
  • Awareness equals survival. Awareness saves your life.
  • If a guy’s got a gun, and you’re not on the battlefield, humble yourself.
  • The Olympic Spirit is not about winining. It’s not about gold medals. It’s about people.
  • When you forgive you have to let it go.
  • The one who forgives never brings up the past to that person’s face. When you forgive, it’s like it never happened. True forgiveness is complete and total. Of all the wonderful results of changing my life, perhaps the best is my ability to forgive.
  • If I had a time machine, all my memories, and could go back and live my life over, there’s not too much I would change. It took that experience to get to where I am now.
  • I wouldn’t mind two hundred more just so I can keep doing whaat I’ve been doing: helping the underdog. That’s been my program. That’s been my whole life.
  • Luke Zamperini. In 1998, when asked by the major of Joetsu, Japan, if there was anything good about being in a Japanese prison camp, he answered quickly: “Yes, It prepared me for fifty-five years of married life”.
  • Clay Zamperini. Louis taught me that it is to the strong, what it is to be compassionate. He taught me that by holding on to anger and bitterness, I would only hurt myself. He often told me that the most important thing I should remember was to “have a cheerful countenance at all times”.

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