Desmond Doss was just a Georgia country boy, but he was much, much more than that too! He has become in the last 24 hours one of the thousands of the World War II generation that are passing away each day.
Doss was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, the top award for valor in war given by the United States. But he is unique in that he was a noncombatant soldier, drafted but refusing to bear arms. He choose, instead to serve as a battlefield medic in the war against Japanese imperialism in the Pacific. His life reminds us of how seriously some Christians take the admonition of Christ to be peacemakers. He lived out that witness in the midst of the battlefield and with the constant pressure from the men around him who had taken up arms. The armed forces of Japan certainly gave him no quarter for being unarmed in the same way that a Christian volunteer from a peace group was recently killed in Iraq. In some ways, the path he chose was more difficult than that of other conscientious objectors who refused to go to the battlefield.
The funeral will be held April 1 at 3 p.m. in the campus church at Southern Adventist University. In lieu flowers, his family has asked that donations be made to the Desmond Doss Museum Fund (PO Box 12000, Calhoun GA 30703), a worthy cause simply because of his unique witness. It is an important witness at a time when many sincere Christians in America are, on the one hand, avidly supporting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (even urging further military action in Sudan), while, on the other hand, strongly pushing for the repeal of the right to an abortion out of concern for the sacredness of life.
Could meditating on Desmond Doss's path help us make sense out of this convoluted situation? He was never a sophisticate; just a Georgia country boy with, just maybe, a clearer sense of right and wrong than most of his peers and any of us in the generations that follow.