The Archive Collection

Louis Zamperini Artifacts

September 4, 2018

Louis Zamperini and Billy Graham, 1949


On January 1, 2015, war hero and Olympian Louis Zamperini was to be honored as Grand Marshal at the Tournament of Roses Parade. He passed away a few months prior to the parade so Will Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson, stood in his place.

“A Race Well Run” – City of Torrance float in the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade honoring Louis Zamperini (Will Graham, seated 2nd from left)


This month, we are featuring three items from that parade:

  • Two tickets to the event
  • A gold lapel pin with an airplane and torch made in loving memory to Louis Zamperini
  • The patch Will Graham wore during the parade that reads, “GRAHAM in Honor of Louis Zamperini”

Will Graham on Louis Zamperini

In 1949, a young evangelist named Billy Graham—my grandfather—held a Crusade in a tent at the corners of Washington and Hill streets in the city of Los Angeles.

Louis’ wife went to one of the meetings and committed her life to Christ. She returned home and told her husband that she was no longer planning to divorce him because of the decision she had just made to follow Jesus. She asked him to come with her to hear Billy Graham the next night.

Louis did go to hear my grandfather and ultimately remembered the promise he’d made to God when he was adrift in the ocean, when he promised to serve Him if allowed to survive.

Louis walked forward, committed his life to Christ, and allowed Him to mend the broken pieces of his life. The nightmares and the thirst for alcohol were gone. His marriage was restored. He was even able to forgive “The Bird.”

Read more…

In 2010, Zamperini detailed his life experiences in the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Part of his story, including his experience with Billy Graham, is soon to be released in a film called Unbroken: Path to Redemption in which Will Graham will be playing the part of his grandfather.

For more information on the upcoming film, visit here.

Click on each image to view larger.






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