Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grateful For Our Soldiers Sacrifice

I know blogs are not generally used as book reviews but once again, I can’t resist.  I just read possibly one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, it certainly captivated me more than any book I can remember, and that’s saying something because I’ve read a lot of really great books.  It’s called Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  It first chronicles the childhood of Louis Zamperini who is any parent’s worst nightmare.  If he were a child today they would probably have him diagnosed  ADD, ADHD and anything other acronym code for wild and unruly child.  As a young adult he held the national record for the mile and went to the Berlin Olympics in 1936.  He became well known for his athletic accomplishments and learned to appreciate attention given for good deeds instead of bad ones. 

He enlisted into the Air Force in 1943.  After the plane he was in crashed into the ocean killing all but three on board he spent 47 days drifting on two life rafts with two other men and very little provision.  They battled the sun, sharks that surrounded the rafts constantly as well as dehydration and starvation.  Then the real saga started when they drifted into Japanese territory and were captured as POWs.  This story was not always easy to read, the abuse they suffered as POWs was unimaginable.  The beatings, the degrigation and humiliation, the diseases they got from the lack of sanitation and lack of food and clean water, it was incredible any of them survived.  Louis entered three different camps and each one was worse than the one before.  They were enslaved by their captors who worked many to their deaths.  Overall, 37% of POWs died in Japanese camps compared to 1% in the German and Italian camps.

Eventually they were freed and he reunited with his family and married.  But the scars and nightmares of prison camp persisted and he turned to alcohol to numb the pain.  For several years he a prisoner of his own hatred and shame.  He couldn’t exorcise the demons of war.  One day at a revival by Billy Graham he was able to give all it all to God in one of the most beautiful and inspirational accounts of God’s glory, mercy, love, forgiveness and redemption I have ever read.  From that moment on his nightmares ceased.  He was finally free.  God literally took all that hatred from him and became a committed Christian.  He founded a camp for boys with behavioral problems, worked for a church and did the circuit as an inspirational speaker.  He returned to Japan to the prison that housed all the war criminals to express his forgiveness.

This is truly one of the most extraordinary accounts of a life well-lived that I have ever read.  What I have touched on here is only the tip of the iceberg.  The lessons it teaches are about faith, perseverance, hard work and so much more.  It cannot help but inspire you and make you a better person.  When the book is over you will long for more.  I have discovered Louis Zamperini wrote his own autobiography Devil at my Heels which is already downloaded to my Ipad.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You Know You're From Haines if You Remember.......

Recently someone started a group on Facebook that has garnered quite a following.  It’s been a fun trip down memory lane.  Here are some of my favorites:

·         Feather and Fin restaurant
·         Moose Horn restaurant
·         Doody’s store
·         Wileys restaurant
·         All the “put the fear of God into kids” adults:  Retha Young, Florence Lammers, Ethel Powel, Bill Battrick
·         Roller skating at the old barracks
·         Swimming at 11 mile
·         When the bakery was a row of apartments
·         The big outdoor stairwell into “Schnable’s apartments” with the Post Office below
·         The “Rack & Que” (someone even still had a Tshirt!)
·         Mrs. Berry’s pink everything!
·         Powell’s Store
·         Hakkinen’s Store
·         The Corner store (owned by McDowells)
·         Curfew siren going off every night.....10 pm on weekdays, 12 on weekends
·         The police station up by the legion hall
·         Customs down at 1 mile with a sign saying if you missed us, check in tomorrow morning
·         Riding the cable car at 26 mile
·         Sourdough Pizza (taught me to love of sprouts atop my pizza)
·         The old yellow truck on the playground
·         The rope swing up by Menakers
·         The Smell of the Yukon
·         Strawberry Festival
·         When the “Food Center” was brand new and it seemed so big
·         Porcupine Shorty’s strawberry patch
·         When you could go to the movie theater and pay $.50 for the ticket and $.50 for popcorn & soda
·         Dr. Jones cutting the cast off my leg in front of my 2nd grade class