How should we honor the memory of a valiant Adventist soldier who saved the life of 75 wounded American soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge? Mel Gibson did so with a film that is viewed by thousands right now.
The film is full of violence, but it shows the bravery of one man for whom the life of others was worth more than his own. He dodged enemy bullets while rescuing the lives of his comrades. Here are a couple of paragraphs from an article dealing this incredible story, followed by my own comments:
“Freedom of Conscience on Hacksaw Ridge: A Story for Our Times
And now there’s an amazing, powerful film about one man who was willing to give his life, but whose conscience and deeply held religious beliefs would not allow him to take the lives of others.
Mel Gibson’s new movie, “Hacksaw Ridge,” tells the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist from the hills of Virginia, who enlisted in the Army with the understanding he could serve as a medic—and therefore not violate his firm belief in “thou shalt not kill.” …”
How can Adventist honor the Memory of this American Hero?
In those days, men who served in the army as conscientious objectors were held in rather low esteem, were often ridiculed by their comrades, and mistreated by their superiors. Some of them were abused, imprisoned, assigned to menial tasks, kicked and beaten, and even “dunked headfirst into latrines.”
During the war, 162 members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were court-martialed because of their religious convictions, and when the war ended, thirty-five of these men were serving terms of from five to twenty years at hard labor.
His first day in the army did not go well. When it was bedtime, Doss knelt beside his bunk bed in order to say his prayers, and all of a sudden he became the object of ridicule. A heavy army shoe sailed above his head. He didn’t want to get hit by a shoe, but he didn’t want to cut short his prayers. He realized he would need the Lord like never before.
A sergeant who watched the daring rescue stated: “Doss, I expected to see you killed any minute. We could all see it from up on the hill. You were crawling right toward that sniper.”
Adventists later learned from the Japanese soldier that he was the sniper, and that he was determined to shoot as Doss crawled towards him. He attempted to pull the trigger, but couldn’t.
When Doss’ 77th Infantry Division approached the Island of Okinawa, the American soldiers learned that the Japanese had warned the native population that Americans would torture and slaughter them. To their horror, Doss and his comrades witnessed native women cutting their children’s throats and then their own as the American forces approached.
This risky mission did not go well, and the hill was covered with the bodies of wounded and dead American soldiers. Doss was the only one standing there alone. After lowering the first wounded man, Doss realized that the task was moving too slowly, so he improvised a double knot rope sling, which he used to lower the rest of the wounded men.
There was no time to count the wounded. His superior estimated the number at 100, but Doss thought it must have been no more than fifty, consequently they split the difference and the official number was reported as 75.
Then President Truman stated the following: “I am proud of you. You really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being President.”
The story of this soldier illustrates the attitude of SDA’s towards the sacredness of human life at that time. The best way to honor the memory of this valiant Adventist soldier who dodged enemy bullets while rescuing the lives of wounded American soldiers is to emulate what he did. Are we doing this?
This week I took the time to visit the Loma Linda University campus and read some of the names the school honored with plaques for their contributions to their Alma Matter. I noticed that among those honored was the name of the greatest abortionist in the history of California: Dr. Edward Allred.
Not to be outdone, La Sierra University honored the same man with his name on one of their newest buildings on their campus. What happened? Desmond T Doss was definitely pro-life. He did care for the wounded soldiers whose lives he saved. Should we not follow Doss example of fidelity to God and Country?
Should we not honor those dedicated to save the lives of others instead of honoring with plaques and buildings the memory of the greatest unborn child killer in the history of California?
More: Booton Herndon. The Unlikeliest Hero (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1967)