Books can change your life. What others have written and said is more the heart of who we are and the way we are, than many of us could imagine.
And books are always accessible. In fact did you know that there are more public libraries than McDonald’s in the United States? In fact, there are 17,000 libraries, compared to 14,000 McDonald’s. I have nothing against McDonald’s – I like a Big Mac every now and then myself — but the food for thought available in libraries is much more satisfying.
I used to tell my children – they are all adults now — that books unlock the mysteries of the world. Now I know that today you have Google which has all the answers. But remember that while Google may help you find a quick answer, a book will put that answer in perspective. A book will provide you with some context for how to arrive at the answer. And think of this, 2, 10, or 100 of you may read a book and come up with 2, 10 or 100 different meanings from what you read. And you can even re-read those books at different stages of your life and find even more different meanings depending upon your own experience. You won’t get that from Google.
Let me tell you about one book I read at your age that I remember to this day. It was William Goldman’s Temple of Gold. How many of you are familiar with the Princess Bride? Well the same author of the Princess Bride wrote Temple of Gold which was his first book.
It charted the life experiences of a boy trying to find the handle in life. Handsome, restless, eager to live and find his place in the world, he hurtles through a young man’s rite of passage, searching for answers and somewhere to belong. What he discovers is that within his friendships, army tours and married life, within his victories and tragedies, lie the experiences that will shape his destiny, scar his soul, and ultimately teach him profound lessons he never expected.
And that brings us to a similar story revolving around Unbroken, YOUR BOOK TO GO ALL IN WITH THIS YEAR. With Unbroken, you’re taking a journey with Louis Zamperini. Set around World War II, it’s about perseverance, about never giving up, and it’s about not being afraid to take on challenges. It’s about remaining unbroken in the face of adversity.
Thanks to you and your teachers, I am taking that journey with you. I’ve started the book at the urging of Ms. O’Leary and have to tell you it’s great, it’s a thrill to read, and it presents a great opportunity to learn.
Now I know the book focuses on Louie, but there were many others people who can fit in that unbroken category. And several of them are here with us today. They are veterans who served their country, and gave of themselves so that we could be free. When you read the book, I encourage you to think of the veterans who are with us today. And think of those veterans you see elsewhere in your life. Give thanks to the fact that they too were unbroken in the face of danger. And their service provides great examples for you, as you move along with your lives.
With that, I want to thank for the opportunity to say hello. I hope you will stay in touch during this project to keep me updated. And let me take one last opportunity to remind you that books unlock the mysteries of the world.