Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Interview with Luke Zamperini Son of Louis Zamerini, The Power Of God Featured In Unbroken

www.thevirtualpew.comI recently had the opportunity to talk with Luke Zamperini, the son of Louis Zamperini, the subject of the movie Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie. I wanted to find out a few things about his father and the father son relationship among a few other things. This wonderful movie represents a man who in the end was a man of strong faith and faith convictions. The following is the transcript from the time with Luke Zamperini.  

Luke Zamberini (LZ) - Hey Mike

Mike Furches (MF) - Hey Luke, how are you doing?

LZ - I'm doing well, how are you?

MF - I'm doing wonderful. I saw the movie several weeks ago and to be honest didn't know the story. Your dad was an incredible man.

LZ - Well thank you very much.

MF - What kinds of lessons and things did he teach the kids as you were growing up?

LZ - Well, first of all he didn't have a hard time talking about his story with us. Those stories were my bedtime stories growing up. Of course my dad was my hero because he was my dad and as I begin to learn more about his story it just became more and more evident that he was a different kind of dad than the dad of my friends. The things he would pass down to us was primarily an attitude having a cheerful continence at all times, always looking at the bright side and never giving up or giving in. To always perceiver to achieve your goal. Most importantly what he taught me was a love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That changed his life and eventually changed mine as well.

www.thevirtualpew.comMF - I noticed in some of the press materials that you are a musician as well.

LZ - Yeah I dabble in some music. I made the decision for Jesus as a child but I grew up in the 1960's in Hollywood California and so that presented some challenges so I just kind of got lost in the world of Rock N Roll and played the guitar and did all of that but eventually when I was 29 I kind of threw off the desire to be a part of that culture and returned to my Christian roots. I was blessed with a wonderful family, a wife and a great job. I do still play music but just as a hobby.

MF - I'm a musician as well so had to ask that. I have a lot of friends in Southern California who are musicians as well. One of the things I wanted to ask about though, and I don't know if a lot of folks have is about the camp that was started in honor and recognition of your dad. I am assuming the camp is still in existence. can you tell us some about it?

LZ -  Sure, Victory Boys Camp was established by my father in 1954. It started out with a physical location in the mountains north of Los Angeles. He would take kids from reform schools up there and teach them mountaineering skills and outdoor skills. He would try to win their confidence to better influence them in their lives. The camp has changed over the decades and it eventually ended up being wherever Louie Zamperini was with kids and where he could help him, that was Victory Boys Camp. We actually lost the physical location and he would sometimes use Mammoth Mountain or Squaw Valley or some other resort would offer their facilities. So for Victory Boys Camp we figured would go away when my father died and that was the plan, that we would just discontinue the camp. However, a year ago we had found a young man who really needed some help so we took him to see my dad and Victory Boys Camp was able to finance this young mans journey to Australia to go to a youth mission camp down there. That helped to turn him around. He was a Christian boy who had gotten involved in drugs. They turned him around though and sent him on a mission. We thought, this is too wonderful of an opportunity to pass up, we need to keep Victory Boys Camp going. What's happened is that my 28 year old son Clay has decided to take the camp over so he is now the CEO of Victory Boys Camp. We are now trying to raise the money to get another facility and to continue the work that my dad did over the last seven decades of helping others find a better way in life through Christian teachings.

www.thevirtualpew.comMF - The film shows the power to overcome and beyond resilient. Where do you think that power came from for your dad? Whether overcoming the issues of his youth, making the Olympic team, being lost at sea or overcoming what he went through as a POW?

LZ -  My dad was a very resourceful and very defiant individual growing up. He turned himself around by getting into sports as a 15-year-old but he still kept that defiant spirit in him as he competed. That defiance and resourcefulness got him through the ordeal at sea, the prison camps but it couldn't get him through the post traumatic stress disorder that he was suffering from after the war. It wasn't until he walked into a tent meeting in downtown Los Angeles in 1949 that was being conducted by a new evangelist at the time, a guy named Billy Graham that he made a decision for Christ. That actually changed his heart and his defiance turned to joy and his revenge turned to love. That's what really turned him around. Up to that point, it was really just being resourceful defiant and clever, the Torrance Tornado from Torrance California.

MF - The concept of forgiveness is touched on in the movie towards the end of the film. The ability to forgive is a powerful illustration, especially towards The Bird. What would your dad say was the importance of forgiving others?

LZ - Well, he had hatred in his heart for the prison guard who was nicknamed The Bird because The Bird had singled him out and was on him daily for 27 months. His hatred for The Bird though wasn't hurting The Bird, it was hurting him, literally. It was destroying him. After he realized that God could forgive him for all of the rotten things that he had done then he realized that he needed to be able to forgive his guards and The Bird in particular as well. Having to forgive him was hard but it literally lifted him free from the destruction he was doing to himself by harboring that hatred. It was really a cathartic thing, it was good for Louie as well as a love and gesture of good for his fellow man.

MF - In my book and short movie I mention that it was me that was set free when I was able to forgive those who had done me wrong. It sounds like the same concept here.

LZ - Yeah, exactly.

MF - The film has been heavily promoted, what are your hopes that comes about for the movie?

LZ - I hope people take home from the film the power of faith and forgiveness. The film demonstrates the amount of suffering a person can endure. It also points towards the end that what really saved him was the ability to forgive those who had done him wrong. What I am really hoping is that this film will impact generations of people to consider their own situations and to look to forgive others. When they do that, it is also a way of helping themselves out.

www.thevirtualpew.comMF - Your dad saw the film before his death. Do you think this is a part of what he wanted for it as well?

LZ - Oh, absolutely! He expressed from the very beginning that whatever shape the film took it had to include him making his promise in the life raft that if God would get him home from this ordeal that he would seek him and serve him and that he had gone back and forgiven his guards. Those two things were essential to him and Angeline did a marvelous job at getting them into the film.

MF - I appreciate it very much sir.

LZ - You're welcome and I do have a side note just for you.  The guy who played The Bird in the movie, Miyavi, he is a guitar player. This is his first attempt at acting but he is a great Japanese Guitarist.

MF - I didn't know that, I did say in my review that I thought he deserved an Academy Award nomination for his acting.

LZ - Yeah, he is really good, but look him up. You will really appreciate the way he plays guitar.

MF - I will, I am a bass player and have worked with a lot of really good guitarist over the years so I really appreciate good guitar players.

LZ - Wow, great, you can find a lot of videos of him, (Miyavi) on youtube, but thanks a lot again for having me and I appreciate it.

MF - Thanks to you as well Luke, blessings to you.

LZ - You as well Mike. 

The following is a video from CBS that remembers the Unbroken Spirit of Louis Zamperini, to see the video just click on the video, if the video doesn't appear, just click on the following link:

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