If you can find inspiration after a plane crash, 47 days lost at sea and two years in a series of brutal prison camps, anything is possible.
At least that's our takeaway upon first hearing of Louis "Louie" Zamperini's long, strange journey. The one-time U.S. Olympian enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941, in the midst of World War II; his plane went down over the Pacific on a fateful day in May 1943. Three out of the 11 passengers on that plane survived, and one, Francis McNamara, perished at sea. When Zamperini and Russel Allen Phillips (the other surviving passenger) washed ashore, they were immediately captured by Japanese sailors and imprisoned through the end of the war.
After his release, Zamperini somehow found it in him to forgive his captors and serve as an inspiration to others.
If it sounds like something out of a movie, it isn't -- but it will be. Zamperini's story is hitting the big screen on Christmas Day thanks to a film called "Unbroken," directed by Angelina Jolie and based off the 2010 Laura Hillenbrand book of the same name.
We've partnered with Universal's "Unbroken" to round up some inspirational quotes, from Zamperini and others, that will give you the motivation to thrive in spite of the most insurmountable obstacles.
Richard Hoyt, Jr.
Richard “Rick” Hoyt, Jr., was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, but that hasn’t stopped “Team Hoyt,” as they’re affectionately known, from racing across the finish lines of endurance events all across America. Rick’s father, Dick Hoyt, recently pushed him across the finish line of their 31st Boston Marathon. At 74, Dick says it’s his last.
Bethany Hamilton is a surfer whose arm was severed by a shark back in 2003. Eleven years later, the “Soul Surfer” has gotten back on her board, found love, written a book, won a major surfing event in Hawaii and is currently starring on "The Amazing Race."
Scott Hamilton back-flipped his way to Olympic gold in figure skating in 1984. In 1997, he battled testicular cancer; after recovering, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since then, he’s written two books and serves as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador, among other projects.
"To believe, when all along we humans know that nothing can cure the briefness of life, that there is no remedy for basic mortality, that is a form of bravery."
You’ve probably heard Aron Ralston’s story: the man amputated his own arm after a mountaineering accident in which he was pinned under a boulder. Ralston continues to climb and has published an autobiographical book, called 127: Between A Rock And A Hard Place, on which the 2010 movie was based.
After her husband was assassinated, Jackie Kennedy Onassis led a quiet life in New York City. One of her lasting legacies is as a historical preservationist; she helped save the historic Grand Central Terminal.
Mariane Pearl is a French journalist and widow of Daniel Pearl. In 2002, Daniel was working as a Wall Street Journal reporter in South Asia. He was kidnapped by Pakistani militants and murdered by a member of Al-Qaeda. Mariane Pearl has written a memoir titled A Mighty Heart and serves on the honorary board of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which aims to increase cross-cultural understanding through journalism and the arts. A film based on her memoir came out in 2007, starring "Unbroken" director Angelina Jolie.
Oprah Winfrey overcame tremendous challenges in order to become the woman we know today. She grew up poor, the daughter of a single mother, and was sexually abused as a young girl. She got into radio while still in high school, and the rest is history.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist. In 2012, she was shot on her way home from school because of her advocacy for girls' education. In 2014, she became the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Louis Zamperini’s story is the definition of overcoming adversity. Following a childhood marked by troublemaking, he joined the track team and became a star. He qualified for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and finished eighth in the 5000-meter event. In September 1941, he enlisted in the Air Force; a plane crash led to his capture by the Japanese Navy and he was kept as a prisoner of war until the end of World War II. After his return, he had a career as an inspirational speaker. He passed away this July.
There's no question that all of these inspiring people have had #IAmUnbroken stories for the ages. Do you have a story of your own? Submit it at www.iamunbroken.com or share with the hashtag #IAmUnbroken on Twitter or Facebook to participate in the conversation!