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Never, ever give up!

  • Published
  • By Col. David Almand
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
In an unprecedented turn of events, Cardinals baseball fans watched their team climb back from a 6-0 score to earn a "miracle win" over the Washington Nationals during regular season play to earn back-to-back trips to the National League Championship Series.

Loyal fans watched as their beloved team slowly climbed their way onto the scoreboard to put the gap to a 7-5 deficit. Yet in the top of the ninth, the Nationals had walked two men already when second baseman Daniel Descalso drove a two-out, two-run single, tying the score. The game came down to the the last nail biting strike, when shortstop Pete Kozma smacked the ball and earned another two-run single which clinched the win for the Cardinals.

By now, no one should be surprised by their unrelenting nature and their ability to stay calm and focused on their end goal. These world champions know what it takes to win--and they've proven it through the years in some very dramatic ways. And while it may seem like a cliché, the ability to never, ever give up is not only the mark of a true champion, but also the warriors who wear the uniform of the America's armed forces.

This ability to never give up has changed the course of human history, as well as individual lives. Take for instance, the famous speech given by Winston Churchill in 1941 when he visited a school after Britain staved off a German invasion. What he stated then is just as true now and applies to the foes we face: "But for everyone . . . from this period of 10 months, this is the lesson: Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty-never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

Notice he mentions to keep our good sense about us, but in all matters we should stand by our convictions. What he did for his country was to instill hope and optimism concerning the outcome of the war. Our Airman leaders of today work to do the very same thing--instill hope and optimism for our troops and our families as they serve honorably and faithfully to discharge the duties of their offices.

Recently, I asked our senior leaders to read about a man who by his actions and will to survive has inspired millions of people today. His story also takes place during World War II when in 1943, the B-24 he flew in crashed into the Pacific Ocean--killing eight of the 11 men aboard. Louis Zamperini spent the next 47 days adrift at sea with little food and only rain water to survive. After fending off sharks and surviving several Japanese strafing runs, they were captured by the Japanese Navy near the Marshall Islands.

This former Olympic miler's frame wasted beyond recognition, but he incredibly endured two more years in one of the most brutal POW camps run by the Japanese--tortured specifically by a prison guard he named "the bird" who was also on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's list of 40 most wanted war criminals in Japan. Those back home thought he had been killed at sea because he was not listed as a POW. Once home, he suffered from severe post traumatic stress disorder, but learned to adjust to life post-war with the help of his wife, Cynthnia, and his faith which was bolstered by the assistance of Billy Graham.

His wasn't just one moment where he had to overcome an obstacle with hope and optimism ... it was a lifetime of choices, but his common theme was to never, ever give up. His story is one so vividly retold in the book "Unbroken" thanks to a brilliant author, Laura Hillenbrand, who took seven years to write his story. Countless hours of research and interviews ... and struggles with her own health issues as she suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ... were weaved into this rich account of someone who shows us how to never, ever give up.

There are many other sources of inspiration but the point is that we have the ability to literally change our world, the people around us, and ourselves ... if we remember to never, ever give up!