By Terry Miller, Pasadena Independent
2015 Tournament President Richard Chinen was honored at the annual Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President’s Breakfast early Thursday morning at Pasadena’s Sheraton Hotel..
“In 2011, I started reading a book titled ‘Unbroken,’ ” Chinen said. “The feature character in the book was Louis Zamperini. We were thinking about an inspirational theme, a theme where we would actually lift people’s lives up.”
Chinen wanted Zamperini as grand marshal but “didn’t even know if Zamperini was still alive.”
Zamperini’s life as an Olympian and World War II prisoner of war and his life after is the basis of Lauren Hillenbrand’s book “Unbroken” and the feature film of the same name directed by Angelina Jolie, schedules for release in the U.S. on Christmas Day.
‘The secret to life … is our attitude,’ Zamporini told The Chinens when they went to visit him at his home in Torrance.
A frail but witty Zamperini accepted the honor at a special ceremony at Tournament House in May.
Many said Tournament of Roses President, Richard L. Chinen’s choice was’ wonderful and a natural choice” for the theme of next year’s parade while many more pondered whether the 97 year old war hero would live long enough to ride those 5 miles in the parade on January 1.
Sadly, the cynics were right. Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner whose remarkable story of survival as a prisoner of war in World War II gained new attention in 2010 with the publication of a best-selling biography by Laura Hillenbrand, died on July 2 in Los Angeles. He was 97. A statement released by his family said he had been suffering from pneumonia.