On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS December 22, 2014 # 520 Up next… “Desire”
After further review…The film “Unbroken” opens on movie screens worldwide this week. Its story depicts the life of Olympic distance runner Louie Zamperini and how he overcame indescribable odds to survive World War II. An Army Air Corps bombardier on a B-24 Liberator aircraft, Zamperini and his crew were conducting an aerial search at sea when the notoriously unstable bomber developed mechanical problems and crashed. Zamperini and two others were the only survivors. The trio drifted in a small raft for weeks, surviving on fish, birds, and rainwater – one died after a month. Zamperini and the other one persisted, but were captured by a Japanese patrol 47 days and some 2000 miles from the crash site.
Thus began Zamperini’s struggle as a P.O.W., singled out for inhumane treatment and propaganda purposes by virtue of his prior Olympic fame. The title of Laura Hillenbrand’s biography could have easily have been “Desire”, considering how much of that quality Zamperini had to possess in order to live. The point to be made with this story is Zamperini’s never-give-up attitude; that’s where the word desire (to live) comes in. While this story is unique in its description, it was all too often repeated in WW II, and in wars/ conflicts throughout our history.
The lesson (in these stories – there’s always a lesson) is to remind us that we must never forget what so many have endured in order for us to retain our freedoms; but also to remind us that we all possess an inner strength when faced with life-threatening situations. Whether it’s a debilitating illness, an accident, or a disabling family dysfunction, we need to maintain the desire to move life in a positive direction.
As in sports there comes a time when we face an opponent that we must struggle to overcome, and thus continue to fight to win, i.e., survive. It was sports that gave Zamperini that desire. The question remains: how does one know if he or she does possess such an inner strength? Its called belief, a word often employed by today’s sports T*E*A*Ms. It starts with “one small step”, as Astronaut Neil Armstrong taught us some 45 years ago. His desire to achieve was not much different than Zamperini’s.
As we finish our tenth year of these weekly TunneySides my heartfelt THANKS go to each of you who read these columns/blogs. We wish you a peaceful holiday season and a Merry Christmas.
Oh, by-the-way Jim’s book with positive messages for everyday living is available via email: “101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” makes a wonderful Christmas gift.