I closed the book and held it close to my chest. After three weeks immersed in the pages of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand I was both sad and happy for the story of Louie Zamperini to come to an end.
When I started reading this book it wasn’t what I expected. For some reason I thought it was a fiction novel set in World War II. I realized right away this wasn’t the case. Rather than historical fiction, Unbroken is a very real account of an American POW, a biography of an American hero.
While I love historical fiction my typical reading preferences do not gravitate toward history books, particularly those that tell the gruesome details of war and the soldiers who fight them. That’s more my husband’s department, and for years I’ve been content to leave this difficult and heavy reading up to him.
But there was something about Louie, something about Unbroken that I couldn’t let go. This story, albeit hard to read, is the closest I’ll ever come to understanding the price that was paid for my freedom.
If an American hero like Louie was brave enough, resilient enough, strong enough to endure the story captured in this book, the very least I can do is take the time to read his-story.
It is nothing short of scandalous. That I can sit on my couch, comfortable and cozy on a cold winter night, with food in my fridge and a roof over my head and read the story of a man who lost everything in order to protect my freedom.
Books like Unbroken, movies like American Sniper are hard to read, hard to watch, but I think there is an importance to these stories all Americans should make room for in their hearts, their minds, their lives. How else do we avoid taking the truth of our history for granted? How else do we avoid forgetting? How else do we avoid turning a blind eye to what is still being done on our behalf to keep us safe, to keep us free?
If you’re like me, and war books/movies aren’t your thing, might I encourage you to check one out? Take the time to set aside your normal book of choice and engage in the stories of men and women who have given their lives so we can live our lives in safety and in freedom.
And when you’re done, I hope you’ll take that unlikely book on your reading list and hold it close to your chest. A little more grateful. A little more aware. A little more willing to thank the veteran you see at the grocery store next week.
A little more willing to keep on reading. Because these stories are more than stories.
They are relics of our history, bought with blood, too precious to be forgotten. They are links into the battle against evil, being fought for us right now, too real to be taken for granted.
An Unlikely Reading List…
Night by Elie Wiesel
1776 by David McCullough
American Sniper by Chris Kyle
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
American Wife by Taya Kyle
Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
A Warrior’s Faith by Robert Vera
~A Message From the Archives