Author Archive: directorifi

“Forgiveness Saved My Life” says World War II Army Veteran Louis Zamperini who was Immortalized in Book/Movie ‘Unbroken’

The Atlantic.com, Washington, DC – Louis Zamperini waged one of the most astonishing personal battles of World War II as an Army Air Corpsman. Despite being officially listed as “killed in action” by the U.S. Government and surviving two years of  torture in a Japanese prison, Zamperini survived to tell his story and to forgive.Zamperini

In May 1943, Zamperini’s B-24 crashed into the Pacific. For 47 days, he floated on a raft in the ocean. He was then captured by the Japanese, who held him prisoner until August 1945. These experiences tormented Zamperini’s postwar life leading to constant nightmares, drinking binges, and general carousing.

But in 1949 things began to turn around for Zamperini. After hearing a talk by a young Rev. Billy Graham, he forgave the men who held him prisoner, including the sadistic Japanese corporal, Mutsuhiro Watanabe, known as the “Bird,” who tortured him daily. Without that forgiveness, Zamperini says, “I wouldn’t have a life. I think I’d be dead.”

Unbroken 3This saga is chronicled in Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The award-winning book has remained on the bestseller lists since it was published in 2010, and in December, Universal Studios released a film adaptation directed by Angelina Jolie.

Before his death in July at age 97, Zamperini was interviewed by author John Meroney who knew him when Zamperini was an Olympic athlete before entering the Army. Here are excerpts from one of those interviews:

Meroney: After the war, you had nightmares about being a prisoner of war. Hillenbrand discloses that these dreams were so extreme, you almost strangled your pregnant wife to death in your sleep thinking she was the “Bird,” the man who tortured you.

Zamperini: Those nightmares came every night. I’d always wake up wringing wet. I thought I was strangling the Bird. I honestly wanted to go back to Japan and secretly find and kill him before I’d be satisfied.

Meroney: And your life was never the same after Billy Graham.

Zamperini: Well, that night I went back to his prayer room and made my profession of faith in Christ. I asked God to forgive me for not being conscious that He answered my prayer requests. While I was still on my knees, I knew there was a change. It happened within seconds.

Forgiveness FlagMeroney: What was it?

Zamperini: I felt this perfect calm, a peace. I knew then that I was through getting drunk, smoking, and chasing around. I also knew I’d forgiven all my prison guards, including the Bird. Boy, that’s something. So I got up, went home, and that was the first night in four years that I didn’t have a nightmare. And I haven’t had one since.

Meroney: How did forgiving your captors change your life?

Zamperini: Well, when you hate somebody, you don’t hurt them in the least. All you’re doing is hurting yourself. But if you can forgive—and if it’s true—you’ll feel good. It’s chemical. White corpuscles flood your immune system, and that’s a secret to good health.

Forgiveness has to be complete. If you hate somebody, it’s like a boomerang that misses its target and comes back and hits you in the head. The one who hates is the one who hurts. So forgiving someone is healing. 
                                             

Read the full story: ‘World War II Isn’t Over’: Talking to Unbroken Veteran Louis Zamperini and watch the official Universal Studios movie trailer.

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Mother Forgives Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Her Daughter

Yuma Sun, Yuma, Arizona – The mother of a 14-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver as the girl was skateboarding home in August 2013 says she has forgiven the driver.

Sandy Garcia spoke earlier this month at the sentencing hearing for Edgar Borquez, the driver of the car in that fatal crash. Garcia told Borquez that despite the loss of her daughter, Mary Rodriguez, she forgives Borquez for what he did and that she will continue praying for him in the hope that he can one day become a better person.Skateboard 3

“I want you to know that I truly, truly don’t hate you. I forgive you with all my heart and with all that I am,” Garcia said. “I hope that gives you the peace to move on, never forgetting what you did, so you can grow from it and learn from it. Don’t let this be in vain.”

Mary Rodriguez’s father, Julio Rodriguez, and her stepfather Mario Garcia also spoke during the sentencing, both telling Borquez that they had also forgiven him and hope he can change his life for the better.

Afterward, Borquez was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He had pleaded guilty to a count of second-degree murder last month in a plea agreement.

Read the full story: “Driver gets prison time in fatal hit-and-run” and “First Take: The strength of forgiveness”

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The Mobile Forgiveness App – Designed to Help You be at Peace with Life

PRWire (Australia and New Zealand’s leading news distribution service) – After years of trying to come to terms with the 2012 brutal killing of her 72-year-old father, Australian businesswoman Sue Henry says she was compelled to develop the    I Forgive You mobile app to help others dealing with grief or personal upheaval.

Using her personal experience in dealing with the emotions of grief and anger and finally letting go, Henry created the I forgive you app which helps users to express their thoughts on forgiveness, or to share their love, declare their gratitude, make apologies or just simply tell someone they care.

“I never imagined the knowledge I gained in coming to terms with my father’s tragic death would completely change my outlook on life,” said Henry. “In honour of his memory I decided to share my experience with others to possibly help them find peace in their own lives.”

The free app offers an easy to navigate menu that includes FORGIVENESS, LOVEGRATITUDE, APOLOGY, and THOUGHTFULNESS. The user has the option of sharing their thoughts with a partner, friend or family member via email and can even choose to receive a return message of encouragement and support.

The app is available in both the IOS and Android marketplace, at the I Forgive You App website, and through the I Forgive You App Facebook page.

NOTE: The International Forgiveness Institute has neither tested nor used the I Forgive You App and this news article is not intended to be an endorsement of the product.

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Family Forgives After Husband/Father Hostage Killed in Yemen

Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg, South Africa – The day after South African teacher Pierre Korkie was killed in a botched rescue mission in Yemen, his family said they choose to forgive and rejoice in his memories.

Korkie’s wife, Yolande, said that after hearing the news she asked herself many questions and realized she had a choice to make.

“So today we choose to forgive. We choose to love. We choose to rejoiceYemen 2 in the memories of Pierre and keep him alive in our hearts. We honour Pierre’s legacy and give Glory to God for his life and death,” she said in a statement.

“Even though this pain is overwhelming us right now, we choose to believe that this too will pass.” The statement was sent on behalf of Yolande and the Korkie’s two children.

Pierre Korkie and American photographer Luke Somers were killed in the early hours of Saturday, Dec. 6, during a rescue operation carried out by United States Special Forces in Yemen.

Both Pierre and Yolande were kidnapped in Taiz, Yemen, in May of last year. At the time of the kidnapping, Yolande was a teacher in Yemen and she did relief work in hospitals. She was released and returned to South Africa after 228 days in captivity. Pierre had been a hostage for 558 days.

“The furnace of 19 months has been relentless and red hot,” Yolande said. “Thus I had to really think very hard and long for an appropriate approach in the face of this pain.” The approach she chose was forgiveness.

Read the full story: “Yolande Korkie: The family chooses to forgive”

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Woman Forgives Her Son’s Killer, Supports His Release From Prison

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – In a dramatic and emotional meeting this week, the mother of a murdered Milwaukee man embraced and forgave the man who killed her son.

Afriqah Imani’s son, Viltronia Quantrell Williams was shot and killed in 1999 by Gabriel Smith. The now 42-year-old Smith was released on parole Tuesday after serving 14 years of a 25-year prison term for second-degree intentional homicide.

forgiveness-hugImani and Smith embraced each other when they met that day at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School in a meeting brokered by the law school’s Restorative Justice Project. Smith’s mother, Mary Ann Smith-Jackson, was also at the meeting and she wrapped her arms around both of them.

“This is a blessing, truly a blessing,” said Imani, who has forgiven Smith and supported his release. Imani, a devout Muslim, added that the meeting was the culmination of a 15-year spiritual journey for her.

“In our faith, if you have ill-will toward someone — if you cannot forgive — you have a dark spot on your heart that will turn to rust, just like a rusty nail,” she said. “I didn’t want to die with this dark spot on my heart.”

Jonathan Scharrer, director of the Restorative Justice Project, said Imani’s ability to forgive is unusual. Founded in 1987 as the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Project/Program, it’s now working with victims and offenders in 17 Wisconsin penal institutions. The organization has coordinated hundreds of dialogues between victims and offenders.

“There is no expectation in these dialogues that there will be any forgiveness. We don’t bring it up,” Scharrer said. Yet, he adds, the process can lead to transformative results. “People recognize the fundamental humanity in each other. And in lots of ways people are changed for the positive.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Smith repeatedly told Imani how he regretted the events of that day in 1999.

“You have to forgive yourself,” Imani told him. “I just wanted you to be able to come back to your family, because life is short.”

Read the full story written by Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel:  “15 years after fatal shooting, an embrace of forgiveness.”

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