The California church was packed. Families and war veterans, runners and kids, readers en fans, we all filled the benches, excited and upbeat. Everyone was there to see Louis Zamperini, or ‘Louie’, as he liked to be called. The man was small and frail, unstable on his feet, funny and full of stories.
It was a little more than a year ago; probably one of Louis’ last public appearances. We were honored and humbled, I think, to hear and see him – to know he was still there after everything he had been through.
Now he’s gone, at age 97, after a remarkable life. Runners World has the story. It affirms why I responded strongly to his tale, and to Laura Hillenbrand’s magnificent book about him: he exemplified the strength, power and grace of the United States. Zamperini’s story was an American story.
Here’s my Dutch piece about him from a year ago.