November 3, 2016


Because Courage Comes in Different Kinds (Marc LiVecche, November 3, 2016, Providence)

No sooner had his battalion finally gained a foothold on the plateau, then a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire crashed into them. The majority were driven back down the escarpment, but dozens were left trapped and dying on the battlefield. Doss refused to retreat. Over the course of the next twelve hours, first under a U.S. artillery barrage unleashed to cover the withdraw, and later while evading Japanese patrols that prowled the battlefield killing American wounded, Doss would carry his injured comrades from the combat zone to the cliff's edge. Improvising a rope harness, he lowered the wounded one man at a time. According to his Medal of Honor citation, by the end of the night Doss had singlehandedly rescued 75 men, an average of one soul every ten minutes.

Doss did all of this without firing a shot. From childhood, up to and through his military training, and over the entirety of his combat deployment to Guam, Leyte, and Okinawa, Pvt. Doss refused to handle a weapon. He wasn't even rifle qualified.

One of Hacksaw's producers, Terry Benedict, is also the writer and director of an award-winning documentary on Doss entitled The Conscientious Objector, which served as source material for Gibson. Taken together, the films bring into focus two morally formative moments from Doss' childhood.

The first is of his fascination with a framed illustration of the Ten Commandments that hung in his Seventh-day Adventist home. It was the image of the sixth commandment that most disturbed him: Cain standing, club in hand, over the lifeless corpse of Abel. Doss remembers lamenting aloud "How in the world could a brother do such a thing?" In that instant, he heard the voice of God declaring, "If you love me, you won't kill." From the moment on, Doss recalls, "I didn't ever want to take life."

The second formative moment involves a fight between Doss' drunken father and his uncle. The incident escalated until his father grabbed a pistol and threatened murder. Doss' mother was eventually able to intervene, giving young Doss the weapon to hide in the woods. He returned in time to see his father being escorted away by the police. The trauma was exacerbated for Doss by his realization that his father had nearly repeated the crime of Cain.

Posted by at November 3, 2016 5:57 PM