On November 9th, Luke Zamperini, son of famous athlete and Prisoner of War Louis Zamperini, spoke at the 77th annual Hannibal-LaGrange University Booster Banquet. Attendees had the opportunity to hear Zamperini give a keynote address during the banquet, and those who bought VIP tickets had the opportunity to attend a private reception to meet and take photos with Zamperini. This event is held annually by the university in an attempt to raise money for student scholarships.
Zamperini spoke about his father’s incredible journey in hopes to inspire others. “My dad imparted to me perseverance, hope, faith, and forgiveness. I want to impart those same ideas on other people. Many people, when they see all the struggles my dad went through, are inspired to persevere in their own struggles.” Louis Zamperini was a track and field star in the 1936 Olympics who then fought in World War II. When a plane he and several other soldiers were flying crashed, he and two companions were stranded at sea for forty-seven days. When they finally found land, they were captured by Japanese soldiers and transferred to a prison camp. Louis Zamperini and many other soldiers were tortured in these camps. Zamperini had an unbreakable spirit that carried him through these experiences.
His son, Luke, told this story, but also emphasized his father’s later conversion to Christianity, which inspired him to travel back to Japan to forgive every single one of his guards face to face. Luke hoped that his father’s devotion to forgiveness would be the most important thing guests took away from the event.
In addition to Zamperini’s address, the HLGU Symphonic Orchestra performed, as well as contemporary Christian music ensemble Praise Song. Audiences enjoyed a dinner served by faculty, staff, and students.
Zamperini hopes that his message inspired guests to overcome their own difficult situations, and to forgive those who hurt them.
- Molly Briggs / HLGU Vanguard / November 2018