Louis Zamperini, a 97-year-old Olympian and World War II hero, died this week after suffering from pneumonia. Remembered for surviving two years of torture as a Japanese prisoner of war, Zamperini spent the final decades of his life speaking about how finding faith changed his life and inspired him to forgive his captors.
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"My whole life is a ministry," Zamperini once told World Magazine. "That is what we are here for. All we are are voices for the gospel. I'll be here for as long as the Lord can use me."
After returning home from his harrowing experiences in Japan, Zamperini suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, turning to alcohol to ease the symptoms. He finally found peace at a 1949 Los Angeles tent revival led by Christian evangelist Billy Graham, NBC of Southern California reported.
As an inspirational speaker, Zamperini preached the power of forgiveness. NBC described his visit in 1950 to Sugamo Prison in Tokyo to meet with, and forgive, his torturers. Zamperini returned to Japan in 1998 to serve as a torch-bearer in the Nagano Winter Olympics.
Zamperini's story was immortalized in the 2010 best-seller "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand. Universal Pictures will release a film adaptation of the book in December.
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