A Thanksgiving Hero – Louis Zamperini

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, my sweet sister in law Samantha (yep!  I’m lucky enough to have ANOTHER sister!) came up with a Hollister family tradition – The Thanksgiving Hero.  On Thanksgiving we all choose an American hero that has inspired us and we share it with the rest of the family.  I love traditions!

This year, my hero is Louis Zamperini.

I first heard of Zamperini a couple of years ago when I was visiting my family in Georgia.  We all went to church one Sunday morning and the sermon was about forgiveness.  They referred to Zamperini’s story as the ultimate example of forgiveness.

Untamable as a young boy, he harnessed that energy to become an olympic runner.


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WWII began and he joined the Air Force.


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During an American raid over Japanese territory, his plane was shot down and they crashed in the Pacific.  He and 2 other crew members survived the crash but spent 47 days in a life raft being circled by sharks.  They were finally rescued but by the Japanese, and they were imprisoned for the next 2 years in the most brutal Japanese POW camps.  Because of Louis’s fame as an Olympic athlete, a psychotic guard, known as “The Bird”, took interest in Louis and constantly tormented him.  One example: already sick and weak, Louis was forced to hold a log above his head for 37 minutes and it ended with the Bird punching him in the stomach.

The war finally ended, Louis went home and began suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder.  His wife wouldn’t give up on him and encouraged him to go to meetings held by Billy Graham (an evangelical Christian).  Louis became a born again Christian and then began a career as an inspirational speaker – forgiveness being his favorite theme.  He went back to Japan and met with some of the POW camp guards and forgave them.  He tried to meet with The Bird later in life but the Bird refused the meeting.  So he wrote him a letter of forgiveness.

As the pastor at church began to read Louis’s letter, he stopped and said, “I think it would be better to hear this from Louis himself.”  I couldn’t believe it!  Right before my eyes, this man, 94 (at the time), who endured and overcame so much, walked out on the stage, stood in front of us and read the letter.  He brought down the house and everyone was in tears.  His story changed me forever.

The book about his life, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, has been on my book list forever.  Fortunately, my book club chose this book last month and I finally got the chance to read it.  All I have to say is that I think everyone should read this book.


Buy the book at Nantucket Bookworks!

Unbroken is currently being made into a movie directed by Angelina Jolie.  It will be released Christmas Day 2014 and I can’t wait to see it!


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Publicity stills photography on the set of NBC Universal's movie 'Unbroken'Photo Credit

Louis is a true American hero.  For me, his story is a reminder to me to preserver no matter what and that I shouldn’t complain about anything.  Ever.  Life may have its ups and downs but I’ve been extremely blessed.  Thank you to Louis for sharing his story and inspiring me.

And thank you Samanth for starting this awesome tradition!

Well, that’s it for this year’s Thanksgiving Hero! Who would yours be?



On my last trip of the semester, I went to Amsterdam! It was a last minute decision (as usual), but everything worked out just right. I booked our tickets and found a cute apartment on Airbnb within 4 days of leaving. It was my first time using Airbnb and I absolutely loved it! It doesn’t make you feel like a tourist in an unfamiliar city. It makes you feel more like a local with a house to come home to at night.

But, enough about airbnb…on to the city! Amsterdam is by far one of the coolest cities I have been to. That’s probably because it is so different from everywhere I have been. The architecture was my favorite part…it is so charming. The buildings are some of the narrowest I have ever seen with some of the steepest staircases I have ever climbed. There are boutiques and cafes on every corner and canals running right along side the streets. English is the city’s second language so almost everyone spoke it, which is a major bonus! Oh and another thing…bikers dominate the roads and yield to no one. Cars and people must yield to them. Even though I was nearly taken out several times, I still think it was one of the coolest parts about the city.



^^How pretty is it with the fog in the mornings?? Also, those are houseboats and they are everywhere.




As usual, we ate our way through the city…our favorite treats included their specialties of Stroopwaffles, Dutch Pancakes and Chipsy King.

Stroopwaffles are like two crispy waffle cone-like cookies with honey sandwiched in between. A-ma-zing.


The Dutch pancakes were divine, divine, divine! We tried one with cinnamon, apples, mixed nuts and apple brandy and another with camembert, chicory, ham, and raspberry sauce.


^^We met up with fellow Lausanners who went to Amsterdam the same weekend we did for some pancakes!



Eating fries out of paper cones is kind of a thing there. And I think that is something I could get very used to! You pick any sauce you want to put on top – the most popular is just straight mayonnaise. I couldn’t exactly jump on board with the mayonnaise thing, but I did try sweet chili sauce and that was to die for. And we may or may not have gone back for a second time and I tried a hot peanut sauce. Also delicious!


amsterdam11And of course, besides the shopping and exploring all the different parts of town, we had to do some of the touristy things like taking a picture in front of the Amsterdam sign…

amsterdam12Visit the Van Gogh Museum…



And my favorite museum I think I have ever been to…The Anne Frank House.

Tip: Be in line by 8:00 for the opening at 9:00. You’re guaranteed to be one of the first to walk in and if you come a couple minutes later…you’ll be waiting longer. MUCH longer. When we came out after walking through the museum the line was wrapped around the entire building. Trust me, you won’t want to waste your time standing in the freezing cold while you could be off exploring the rest of the city. But, if you have no other choice than to go at a later time then I’d say the wait is worth it.


^^There we are, second in line!

I really am not even sure how I can put this experience into words. I’m not even sure I should attempt to do so, with a fear of not doing it justice. What I can say is I got chills up and down my spine about 100 times and I teared up about 5 times. Holding the railing she once held, climbing the stairs she once climbed…it really hit me. Her story became so real. Of course, I knew it was real. But, actually touching the things I had read about, had heard about like the original bookcase that hid the entrance to the Annex that tried to keep her and her entire family safe from the cruelest genocide the world has ever seen makes the story come alive. It was the first time I had really been so moved by a museum before. And I encourage everyone to visit it if they have the opportunity to do so.


Amsterdam was such a dream and unique in every single way possible. I think it was such a great way to end the first travel season! Finals here I come…and more importantly, family, here I come!

Same Page Monday

1.  Caroline just sent me the following picture.  She said that this picture sums up their whole weekend.  I am now posting that picture on Same Page Monday because I would like the record to show that Caroline and Hannah had a boring weekend, holed up in their cold rooms, studying and writing papers… and not out having an amazing time galavanting around Europe and making us all jealous.  Yes, that is Hannah under that blanket.


2.  It is one of my Thanksgiving traditions to re watch my favorite Friends Thanksgiving episodes.  (No, I do not have too much time on my hands.)  The One with The Football Game/Geller Cup  is my all time favorite.  But I actually just watched this one for the first time… The One where Brad Pitt comes to Thanksgiving… and he was one of the members of the I hate Rachel Green club.  hehe

Watch… if you do or do not have time on your hands…

3.  Caroline and I love the Friends Thanksgiving episodes so much that we always try to figure out a way reenact this scene…  It’s always a sneak attack.  No one really wants to be on the receiving end of a tiny marshmallow in their nose.  (Cezzie, we will have to save this for Christmas.. “Hot Chocolate with baby marsh-mellows… she has more marsh-mellows than me.”  Name that movie.)

Here is the scene….

Monica: Um, Rachel, you want to put the marshmallows in concentric circles.

Rachel: No, Mon, you want to put them in concentric circles. I want to do this.

Monica: Every year.


4.  One year, I made yarn ball turkeys for part of my centerpiece for my LA Thanksgiving.  (Again, I do not have too much time on my hands.)


5.  I have seen this car quite a few times driving around like a crazy person in Brentwood.  He changes lanes quickly and speeds around…. and I keep thinking to myself…. “What is he doing driving like that with that sleeping Grandpa in the back.  Poor, Grandpa.”  I finally got a chance to pull up next to him the other day.  While I was pulling, I didn’t know if I was going to scold him or say I was going to turn him in… but that all changed when I found out that the Grandpa was FAKE!!  That red hat was sitting on top of something, but it was definitely not a person.  I don’t know how I feel about this situation.  I can’t wait to see him again though.

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 6.  And finally, Go Patriots.  That was the most amazing comeback ever on Sunday Night.  I mean, who can comeback from being down 24-0 at half time and win?? #BostonStrong #InTomWeTrust

7. Yes, I just hashtagged silly Patriot fan hashtags.