PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — Former Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini will be the Grand Marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade, organizers said Friday.

The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories”.

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Zamperini, 97, originally of Torrance, ran track at USC before being drafted and sent to the South Pacific.

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“Louis Zamperini’s life story illustrates the strength of human spirit in many ways. From becoming a young sports hero in Southern California to surviving for 47 days on an inflatable raft in the Pacific Ocean and then persevering for more than two years held in captivity in Japan, Louis now lives as an enduring symbol of perseverance, heroism and forgiveness” Tournament of Roses Director Richard L. Chinen said. “His life is truly a series of ‘Inspiring Stories,’ and I am elated and humbled that he accepted our invitation to be the 2015 Grand Marshal.”

Zamperini’s story of survival inspired the book and upcoming movie, “Unbroken”, directed by Angelina Jolie. The film is due out in December.

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The 126th Rose Parade will be held on Jan. 1, 2015.