100 years ago today, Olympic athlete and war hero Louis Zamperini was born. An unruly boy who was bullied for not speaking English, the Italian immigrants’ son found purpose in running track. After setting a world record in high school for running a mile in 4:21.2 minutes, he competed in the Berlin Olympics at 19. As a bombardier in World War II, his plane crashed and he survived for 47 days in shark infested waters with little food or water in an inflatable life raft, only to be captured and severely tortured by the Japanese on the island where he finally landed. WATCH an interview… (1917)
He died at the age of 97, four years after the completion of a 2010 book about his life, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. The book was made into a film, directed by Angelina Jolie.
The remarkable “good news” for Zamperini arrived in his post-war life. He suffered from PTSD and constant nightmares until he became a devout Christian after hearing a young Billy Graham speak about the practice of forgiveness. He told everyone that the moment he forgave his captors, the daily nightmares ended and never returned.
Watch a 2014 interview with Zamperini from CBS Sunday Morning…
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Australia Day is celebrated as a public holiday commemorating the First Fleet landing 226 years ago (1788)
- US Congress established the Library of Congress (1802)
- Famed actor, philanthropist, and husband of 50 years, Paul Newman was born in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio (1925)
- India celebrates its independence (1930) new constitution and first president (1950) state holiday of Republic Day
- The Apollo Theater, renown for launching some of the biggest names in music, including Michael Jackson, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Ella Fitzgerald, opened its doors on 125th Street in Harlem (1934)
- Israel and Egypt, led by US President Jimmy Carter, ended an ongoing state of war that dated back to 1948, restored full diplomatic relations and reopened embassies (1980)
- Phantom of the Opera opened, to become the longest-run Broadway show (1988)
- Václav Havel was elected President of the Czech Republic (1993)
- President Hamid Karzai signed the new constitution of Afghanistan (2004)
And, on this day in 1961 Canadian hockey great Wayne Gretzky, was born. Nicknamed “The Great One”, Gretzky became the all-time leading scorer in history during his 20 career seasons in the National Hockey League. He scored more assists than any other player scored total points, and is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season – a feat he accomplished four times. As of 2014, the skater who famously looked down on fighting on the ice, still holds 60 NHL records.
Born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, he played most of his career in a small city for the Edmonton Oilers. “Despite his unimpressive stature, strength and speed, Gretzky’s intelligence and reading of the game were unrivaled. He was adept at dodging checks from opposing players, and he could consistently anticipate where the puck was going to be and execute the right move at the right time. Gretzky also became known for setting up behind his opponent’s net, an area that was nicknamed ’Gretzky’s office’.” –Photo credits (top) Mingle MediaTV; (right) Hakandahlstrom – CC