Friday, April 07, 2017

Hero of Hacksaw Ridge

I didn’t know much about “conscientious objectors” before hearing about this book (and the related movie).  I think the term was abused during the Vietnam era when many people did all they could to not serve in the military, but I honestly know very little.  That's what made reading this book so interesting — a way to learn more about this, especially what it originally meant and how someone made it work for them and ultimately was of great service to his fellow countrymen.  As someone who is active in one's church, the religious aspect of the story was also compelling, as such things seem to make the stories seem more relevant.

Book cover.Hero of Hacksaw Ridge: The Gripping True Story That Inspired the Movie (ISBN: 978-1-629131-54-2) by Booton Herndon is an abridged version of the story of Desmond Doss, a medic who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and saw action in the Pacific theater as the army advanced on various Japanese positions.  What makes the story unusual is that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and not once during his training or active duty did he use arms since he was a Seventh-day Adventist and believed it was wrong to bear arms.  The story chronicles his time in the military from his joining to his discharge after being wounded in action in Japan.  Doss is unwaveringly strong in his religious convictions, including an extremely temperate and patient attitude with those around him.  He displays great faith in standing up for his beliefs when those around him threaten him and ridicule him at every opportunity.  He doesn't hold a grudge when it comes time to perform his duty, and more than once wile fighting in the Pacific, he helps and saves the lives of others, usually at great risk to himself.  The story ends with what truly are “gripping” details of battles on Okinawa where he saved likely around 100 lives while himself being injured.  He is then awarded the much-deserved medal and is able to return to civilian life.  The book also includes a post-script with information about Adventist beliefs (many are similar to those held by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

I found the short book to be extremely interesting and often an exciting read.  The persecution he experienced, especially during training was disheartening, and I consider myself lucky to have never experienced anything like that.  I always envision myself being strong like he was, and pray for that to be true.  The combat scenes were intense, but well-written and not too graphic.  There was also a lesson to be learned in the combat scenes because by then, his fellow soldiers knew Doss and respected him, in part because he was uncompromising his his duty, both to God and his country.  He was no longer ridiculed, but respected.  As is usually the case, sticking to one’s beliefs results in respect in the long run.  It was also refreshing to see a person who was able to understand how he could serve the country without compromising his beliefs.  One has a clear duty to one's nation, and it's too bad that so many peoople don't understand that today.

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This work, including all text, photographs, and other original work, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 License and is copyrighted © MMXIV John Pruess.

1 comment:

Papa Tom said...

I liked the book as well and felt much like you do. I believe one does have a duty to serve one's country and it was great to see how he did it.