Desmond Doss is among the great heroes of the 20th Century. Don't you agree?
Who is Desmond Doss? Why didn't we read about him in church? Why didn't we read about him in history?
Desmond Doss, a Medal of Honor honoree, Christian, pacifist and medic, is a simple man born in Lynchburg, VA in 1919. He was raised in church and believed in taking the 10 Commandments seriously, including "thou shalt keep the Sabbath" and "thou shalt not kill."
Although he had a deferment, Doss joined the army in 1941. However, he joined as a conscientious objector. He refused to carry a weapon or kill another human being. He also refused to work on the Sabbath. He was ostracized, almost court-martialed, transferred to a rifle unit (from the medic unit), persecuted and almost Section 8ed (mental). All because he believed in serving his country and saving (but never taking) lives.
The story, told in a new documentary, The Conscientious Objector, which is available on DVD, from video stores and on PAX TV is among the more fascinating and unbelievable stories you will ever hear. Miraculous things (enemy guns locking when they tried to shoot, praying and no men from unit being shot during bloody battles, Bible lost on field of combat found, etc.) happened on the battle fields and men who had hated him came to love him and respect him as the greatest soldier and patriot they had ever seen. He never wavered in his convictions and during the bloodiest battle in the Pacific (Okinawa), he saved over 75 of his wounded men during a 12 hour period by himself. Suffering wounds, he still stopped to help others before allowing himself to be served.
Upon returning home, he was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor. It is a powerful story Christians should hear. We ask how a person can be a pacifist in a time of war. Look to Desmond Doss. We ask what a heroic peacemaking Christian looks like. Look to Doss. We think peacableness towards enemies and the renunciation of violence are trite sentiments with no place in reality. Desmond Doss could have been the greatest Christian witness these men ever saw, but not if he had picked up a gun. If you watch the documentary, see the emotion and love on the faces of those he saved.
His non-violence was a witness of the Risen Christ. When asked why he was a conscientious objector, he replied, when I think of Christ, I cannot see him carrying a gun and killing others. But I can see him as a medic tending to the wounds of others and saving their lives. Ah, the great physician.
It is a story that needs to be continuously retold.