City of Torrance Honors Louis Zamperini with Rose Float

Tournament of Roses Honors Zamperini in a Car That Belonged to Joseph Stalin

Louis Zamperini - by Terry Miller

Louis Zamperini – by Terry Miller


The inspirational life story and recent passing of the City of Torrance’s hometown American hero, Louis Zamperini, is celebrated in this floral tribute to the 2015 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal. Books and movies have been written about his remarkable life, his courage, resilience and ability to forgive his captors. Growing up poor in Torrance he discovered running as a means to better himself and to help out his family. He set world interscholastic racing records while attending Torrance High School helping him gain a scholarship at the University of Southern California where he held the national collegiate mile record which stood for 15 years. He was America’s best finisher in the 5000 meter race at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and while on a rescue mission the B-24 Liberator plane he was flying in crashed into the Pacific Ocean where he drifted for 47 days in a life raft, only to be captured and brutally tortured by the Japanese for the next two years. At the end of the war he returned to Torrance as an American hero. In 1949 Louis attended a crusade led by evangelist Billy Graham and became a born-again Christian; forgiving his captors who so brutally tortured him as a prisoner of war. He became an inspirational speaker, established the Victory Boys Camp and traveled the world teaching forgiveness and his Christian beliefs.
The City of Torrance celebrates the 97 year long life of Torrance High School and USC track star, Olympian, World War II prisoner of war and inspirational speaker Louis Zamperini. Raised in Torrance, his heart never wandered far from the city and people he loved and supported throughout his life.
As an sidebar, The Tournament of Roses honors the memory of Grand Marshal Louis Zamperini, with Mr. Zamperini’s children and their spouses who will ride a 1936 Packard Standard Eight. “This chic vehicle has a very interesting history, as less than ten of them were produced. This particular vehicle was exported to Russia in the 1930’s as a gift to Joseph Stalin, ” according to the TOR.
Stalin, of course, was one of the most powerful and murderous dictators in history, Stalin was the supreme ruler of the Soviet Union for a quarter of a century. His regime of terror caused the death and suffering of tens of millions, but he also oversaw the war machine that played a key role in the defeat of Nazism.
One can only wonder what Louis Zamperini might have said about the choice of said car to transport his family in his memory on New Year’s Day. Knowing Zamperini’s history, he would have forgiven even Stalin for his atrocities.
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