30 DoL – Louis Zamperini -Trust in the Depths of WWII

Louis Zamperini and Trust

As I watch this video, (click above) detailing Luis Zamperini’s  ordeal during World War II in Japanese POW camps I wonder, how did he find bits and shreds of hope as he went along?

I know some survivors of trauma fared worse, because they had already experienced trauma before war. Some survived because they were tough before World War II — that is Louis Zamperini’s story.

NPR describes Laura Hillenbrand‘s biography of  Zamperini- Unbroken as follows:

He was a juvenile delinquent, then a world-class miler; a World War II airman, then a POW grotesquely mistreated by the Japanese.

And the After-War(d)s for Zamperini? This is how Hillenbrand described him during the same interview:

“Louis came home a deeply, deeply haunted man…terrible, terrible nightmares where Louis would wake up screaming … fighting,…… being beaten…

Today Zamperini’s struggles would be recognized as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Once the war is over physically, it’s not over emotionally,

Not nearly.”

I wish Hillenbrand’s spot-on description of PTSD was around when my grandmother, father, brother and sister came home from being held prisoner by the Japanese. They came “home” only months before they had been as close to death as the allied POW’s, and almost as skeletal. Their new “home” was not Indonesia, but war-torn The Netherlands.

I will mark for us points of healing. Tomorrow, some of Zampirini’s.

Meantime, contemplate the emotional/mental/spiritual struggles which were so hard for  survivors after valiently finding physical ways to survive.

I still have such  day to day struggles today. The trials I have survived are mild, yet these are the day to day struggles I have.  I benefit from sharing such thoughts with  survivors of “the unspeakable.” Will you speak anyway to me, even if you too experienced the unspeakable?

Or will you tell me how much more you know now, about the reasons for previous  generations’ silence after suffering?

Here’s a journal entry of mine some time back, attempting to turn past silent sufferingl into the finished novel I want you to read one day:

Why do I find such satisfaction in feeling and believing now this life of mine can work today…or these goals of mine can work?

I know one part that’s great is I can feel there is direction for me and you.

Such times are a lot like King David’s Psalm 119. God’s directions really is a lamp unto my feet, lighting up my path.

But I need help, with all those times that developing these thoughts, ah, now I know, is really about not trusting God, about wanting all the guarantees up front, and then maybe I’ll do my part, after I know.

I do my part anyway. I thank God for always loving me, and you —  first.

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2 Responses to “ “30 DoL – Louis Zamperini -Trust in the Depths of WWII”

  1. Nancy Benich says:

    I often wonder if my father suffered trauma when a Japanese Kamakazi plane flew into his ship during WWII. The plane did not explode miraculously, but the Japanese pilot died. The goal was for the American ship and its crew to die. My mother told me about the incident, which happened before I was born. My father never spoke of it. I wonder if he thought he had been spared for a reason. I wonder why he abused alcohol when life was really pretty good.

  2. Janneke says:

    I wonder with my Dad too. I don’t know what his toughest times were during World War II. Like you, most of those I did know, came from my mother.

    All my father told us was that he broke his nose fighting for bread, in the midst of his years of starvation. He emphasized that he fought after liberation 8/17/45; he must have desperately wanted to be seen as brave after he and over 100,000 others were imprisoned for so long. At his memorial in 2008 I learned from my aunt and uncle, who also survived the camps, that his bravery was actually to go find his family, bring them together during the dangerous Bersiap period, and find them a makeshift home.

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