“This is what the Lord Almighty says: Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.” – Zechariah 7:9
Despite being a conscientious objector who refused to carry a rifle, Desmond Doss bravely volunteered to be a combat medic during World War II, participating in, among others, the battle of Okinawa, considered to be the bloodiest battle of the Pacific theater, where he repeatedly ran alone into the kill zone facing heavy machine gun and artillery fire with nothing to protect himself except his Bible and his faith in God. One by one he carried wounded soldiers to the edge of a 400-foot cliff where he singlehandedly lowered them down to safety. It is estimated that in one night alone he saved between 75 to 100 lives. For his valiant service President Harry S. Truman later presented Doss the Medal of Honor, the first conscientious objector ever to receive that honor.
The late Fred Rogers, longtime host of PBS’s children’s show, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”, once mused: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
It was Desmond Doss’s story on which the 2016 Academy Award Nominee movie “Hacksaw Ridge” was based, which for me was the most gruelingly violent war movie I have ever seen; except for one thing, the bloody combat scenes were not the primary focus. Instead they provided necessary background so that the spotlight could be shown on the faith and courage of Pvt. Desmond Doss — the “helper”.
Just recently my wife, out for her morning exercise, stubbed her toe and fell flat on her face causing enough damage to require a few stitches. As she lay sprawled on the jogging path a stranger appeared who helped her up, cleaned her wounds as best she could, and gently walked her back to our home. .
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”, whether Desmond Doss, brave responders to disasters such as the 9/11 attack, or a kind stranger on a jogging path, they’re out there — everywhere. “Pity weeps and turns away,” St. Francis of Assisi once noted, “but compassion weeps and puts out a hand to help.”