During World War II, the Battle for Hacksaw Ridge was one of the bloodiest encounters in the Pacific region. It was a close combat, heavy weaponry encounter between American and Japanese troops.
Yet amidst the raging, deadly exchange of bullets on the plateau of Okinawa’s Maeda Escarpment, one soldier, Private First Class Desmond Doss, was busy rescuing his wounded comrades from the war zone. Without the use of any weapon, he managed to save seventy-five soldiers during the battle.
Doss’ Personal Battle
Ironically, many of those he rescued had been his persecutors during his training. Doss was a faithful Christian.
Since childhood, Doss hated killing. He despised guns. And yet he enlisted in the US Army.
Because he vowed not to kill or use a gun, his comrades considered him a slacker, a nuisance, the weakest link in the chain. They would taunt his faithfulness to God and even threw their boots at him when he was praying. His commanding officer despised Doss, attempting to get him transferred. The Army repeatedly tried to force him to use a weapon, but always failed.
The Battle for Hacksaw Ridge
Doss had the courage to remain at his comrades’ side and attempted to save as many lives as possible, while others were busy killing.
In Okinawa, the Japanese and American troops faced a gruelling battle on the steep, jagged cliff of what is now called Hacksaw Ridge. Many were injured. Doss crawled through the jungle, dragging his severely wounded comrades to the edge of the ridge, lowering them by rope to relative safety.
Unmindful of his potentially fatal situation and the fact that these men had been abusive towards him, Doss kept on rescuing and praying. He pleaded with God to help him get just one more… and then another… more and more. Over the course of twelve arduous hours he successfully saved the lives of seventy-five men!
The soldiers who had previously mistreated him now praised his actions, calling him the bravest of all. His heroism did not go unnoticed. President Harry Truman conferred on Doss the Medal of Honor, the United States most prestigious and highest personal military decoration awarded for bravery. Doss became known as the pioneer conscientious objector, the first non-combatant soldier to receive the award.
One does not need to fire a bullet to be a hero.
Like Doss, we may find ourselves in dire circumstances. Our attitude and what we purpose in our hearts can help us to endure. Even before Doss joined the army he knew what he wanted to do and what God wanted him to do.
Every day is full of battles. Yes, we may need weaponry but, as we have learnt from the story of Doss, material or earthly weapons can give false security. Our weapon of choice is God’s invisible protection. Like Doss, whether our days seem normal, or in the most trying of times, we need to pray.
People may mock us about our principles but when they are in line with the Almighty’s will, we cannot go wrong. We will be on the winning side.
If you find yourself choosing between what God wants you to do and what the world tells you to do, choose wisely. Choose the better way, the one that has an eternal impact. Lastly, stand on the promises of the Almighty.