The following photos were taken Thursday evening at the Louis Zamperini Celebration of Life which was held at Torrance High School’s Zamperini Stadium. I should probably preface this by saying that I am not really in the habit of going to memorial services for people I do not know but over the past couple of years Mr. Zamperini’s name seemed to pop up more and more in conversations so much so that I felt like I did know him slightly. As I was walking the dogs last night I recalled how our family moved to Torrance [almost] 50 years ago and that even then my dad would mention the Zamperini name; even if I did not really appreciate who this man was. By the end of last night’s event I felt that I knew Louis much better and I wished I had made more of an effort to learn about him while he was alive.
The remembrance to honor Louis Zamperini’s life was a very moving and educational event. From local juvenile delinquent to hometown and national hero, we learned a lot about Zamperini. We were able to hear from people like former Torrance Mayor Ken Miller whose family moved next door to the Zamperini family 80 years ago when Miller was a freshman at Torrance High and Zamperini was a senior. Zamperini’s daughter Cynthia, his son Luke and his grandson Clay all spoke of their lives with a living hero that was, by all accounts, a very humble man. We then got to hear from people like Kyle Gauthier that had only recently met Zamperini who had donated several thousand dollars to help send this young man to Victory Boys Camp, a camp he established in 1952 for wayward youth, where he taught other juvenile delinquents the skills to succeed in life. Speaker after speaker pretty much had the same things to say; this was a man that endured a lot, but was made a better man for it.
In addition to the eulogies there was a Placing of the Wreath by the Torrance High School Associated Student Body, the Torrance High School Track Team distance runners did two symbolic laps around the same track that Zamperini set so many records on and there were several flyovers which Louis probably would have really enjoyed. In the audience, in addition to friends and relatives were classmates and an impressive number of World War II veterans.
The family has asked that any donations be sent to Victory Boys Camp, 2338 Hollyridge Drive, Hollywood, CA 90068.