I’ve struggled with how exactly I want to go about writing this post. Unlike Captive, I can’t summarize it, I’ve tried, it gets too long and my account I think, is too underwhelming, but I’ll try.
The title is Hacksaw ridge and it appears boring at the start. I could’ve been discouraged at how silly the star actor was when he first fell in love but I persevered.
Since I persevered and learnt from it, let me attempt a recap while encouraging you to see it. Or atleast learn from it too.
This story is really just a story of commitment. And of bravery.
When you make a commitment, stick to it. Believe in it and wait by it even when you’re the only one doing so.
Would you believe if I told you Desmond Doss was the only man to go into world war II (and one of the fiercest war spots for that matter) without bearing a single arm or firing one, and yet he was the one who received the highest rank after the war. Would you believe me?
Desmond who valued his faith so much and went into the battle bearing his bible and no guns*. He was no stranger to rejection.
The war was on and America needed more young men to enlist to fight. Desmond did. At the training facility, he was repeatedly ridiculed, scorned and ostracized for preparing to go into battle without touching a gun. He insisted that he enlisted to be a medic because he wanted to help his country but he had no intention of ever taking a life, war or not.
For this reason, the commander framed him for disobeying an order and he faced the military tribunal at the risk of really being sent to prison if found guilty.
His courage to serve and not give up was inspiring. He knew what he was there for and he didn’t mind missing his wedding just for that! (Emphasis is mine because it must be emphasized.)
He believed the war was justified but that killing wrong.
But why is it so important to you to go into battle when you won’t touch a rifle?
“But when the Japanese attacked Pearl Habour, I took it personally. Everyone I knew was on fire to join up including me. two men from my hometown, declared fire unfit, they killed themselves because they couldn’t serve. I had a job and a defence plan, I could have taken it but that ain’t right. It isn’t right that other men should fight and die, that I would just be sitting at home safe. I need to serve. I had the energy and the passion to serve as a medic – right in the middle with the other guys, no less danger just while everybody else is taking life, I’m gonna be saving it. With the world so set on tearing itself apart, don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little of it back together”
Located ontop of a 400 foot cliff with the Japanese heavy weaponry, war ship range and brutal soldiers, was Hacksaw Ridge on the island of Okinawa. That was the location of a near-impossible mission during the second world war.
On site, the battle was as fierce as expected and death was hosting the party. Desmond Doss got to work in the midst of the chaos; saving the wounded by first aid treatment and getting them back to safety. He didn’t give up on anyone no matter how badly injured they were. He kept this up for the period they warred.
On one of those days, it was a fierce battle and the soldiers, it appeared, fought a loosing war. The battalion was commanded to retreat. And while everyone did that, Desmond couldn’t. He knew he heard his GOD calling to him in the voices of the wounded and dying. [It reminds me of that line in the hymn “where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there”**]
Desmond Doss got to work pulling the fallen soldiers from the battleground even though he had no one to support him. That day, the Japanese came down from the other end where they camped and upturned the rubble looking to ‘finish’ anyone that wasn’t already dead. Inspite of his close shave with death, being the only uninjured American soldier on ground, he escaped being seen and kept on dragging his injured and fallen soldiers to safety all through the night and all alone. His hands bled from pulling on the rope he used to let them down the cliff, but he kept on. His strength failed but he kept on.
And while he did that crazy work, he kept muttering “please help me get one more. Lord, one more” On and on he continued until his soldiers discovered wounded soldiers from America who were being let down mysteriously. They were able to come back for him in the morning.
That night, he had singlehandedly in the face of fire saved 75 dying men and given them hope by using a rope to let them down the cliff. Desmond did this despite being about the smallest in size to them all. That night, he had given hope to his commander and commrades who had fallen (legs blasted, gunshot wounds etc) and who thought they would writhe in pain till they eventualy die (either from the brutal Japanese or the pain). Desmond Doss had given hope to those whose families were waiting for them back in America. He was shaken but he made it back fine.
He became the only inspiration for which these other soldiers would agree to go to the battle front the next day. They knew they wouldn’t just be casualties left to die, they would matter in the scheme of things.
Again, Desmond rescued them as they fell. And finally, he courageously gave up himself to keep the people out of terrible harm’s way in an act of kicking two greenades away from his team. He got injured; but the deed was already done – the Japanese were already defeated. What few was left of them surrendered.
Desmond Doss was the hope giver, the life saver. The bible-but-no-arms bearing soldier who said “With the world so set on tearing itself apart, don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little of it back together” and he did just that.
He was the first to receive America’s highest medal of honour for service above and beyond the call of duty.
The movie was directed by Mel Gibson. Written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan. Running time: 139 Minutes
The movie has this website.
P.S: In case you’re still unsure, it’s a true life story!
* His refusal to bear arms at all during a war wasn’t because he condemned other Christians who did so. It was borne out of a pledge he made to God in his teenage years after two close shaves with almost killing people.
** if you’re not used to KJV English style, “be never wanting there” means you should volunteer to help in time of need. We shouldn’t be in need of help and you’re wanting (not available).
I hope you’ve been inspired.
What do you think? Have you seen this movie? Are you inspired to do so?
Love light, and courage