Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Last night I was watching a show about a man named Desmond Doss and it really made me think. I didn't initially realize that I was watching a Christian channel and if I had it is highly likely that I would have turned it off. I'm glad that I didn't because it was an interesting show.
Desmond Doss joined the Army under a conscientious objector status during WWII. He was a Seventh-Day Adventist and took the commandment ' Thou shalt not Kill' literally and without exception. Though he didn't consider himself to literally be a conscientious objector as he was willing to serve his country, registering as one was the only way to get to join without being required to kill. In order to serve, he joined as a medic and he did not carry a gun one time during his duty.
Desmond was a skinny little guy, very plain and sincere. He was not educated or sophisticated and as you may guess, he was razzed pretty bad for his religious beliefs and his actions and was accused of being un-masculine. He was actually threatened by guys who felt that he was getting special privileges and that he wouldn't have their backs and they told him they would shoot him out in the field when no-one was looking. He also had special permission not to have to work on Saturday as this was his Sabbath. One Saturday while he was reading his bible while the other men worked, they pelted him with boots.
But once he got out on the field, he proved his mettle and no-one could accuse him of being a coward any longer. If any soldier went down, he tried to save them, even if he had to brave enemy fire in order to do so. Apparently, it became a common sight to see him running through the battle field through bullets and grenades without a thought for his own safety to get to someone who had gone down. He even tried to save Japanese soldiers until one of his own soldiers threatened to shoot him for it. His fellow soldiers of the 77th battalion came to not only be impressed by him, but to be in awe of him and to believe that he was protected by the shield of God.
The show I watched was a documentary and it was well-done and convincing which I guess is why I didn't realize that I was watching a Christian channel. (I know! That was catty!) Desmond was interviewed as well as other men who were in the Battalion and saw what happened. There were photographs and clips as well. When the men spoke, they got that faraway look in their eyes, you know the one I'm talking about, that people get when they are seeing the pictures in their heads instead of what is in front of their eyes. They talked about the smells and sights and sounds of war. At times they would choke up, or would grasp the chair they were sitting in if they were remembering something particularly upsetting. This is what made it convincing to me.
And they all agreed on what they saw and they all believed that God was with Desmond Doff. These were not ignorant men, I'm not even sure if they were particularly religious men. They definitely didn't respect Doss before their tour of duty and definitely did afterwards.
They talked about how he would walk out right in front of sniper fires and grenades and mortars to get to a man who was down close to the enemy line and somehow he wouldn't get hit. He apparently did this time and time again. Once when Desmond prayed for a group of them before a mission and that group, down to the last man, defied odds by surviving the extremely risky operation.
Finally came the incident for which he received his Medal of Honor. They were on Okinawa island trying to capture the Maeda Escarpment, a 400 foot cliff that separated one half of the island from the other. On top of the cliff they ran into enemy fire and roughly 100 men were wounded. The men that were well fled to safety and the men who couldn't make it were left up there. Doss knew very well what the Japanese soldiers would do to these men if they captured them. So he fashioned a harness out of rope and single-handedly lowered man after man down the cliff as enemy fire exploded around him the entire time. He is credited for rescuing approximately 75 men. This took about 10 hours and he wasn't hit one time. There was a Japanese soldier that they spoke with after the war who remembered that night and said that he had a man in his sights, presumably Doss, and that when he tried to shoot him his trigger wouldn't pull.
Then apparently God was done with him (sorry I couldn't resist!) as he was finally hit during another different operation. They say that as they were carrying him to safety he saw a man who had been hit worse than he was and he gave up the stretcher so that this man could be treated. While laying there waiting he was hit again and his arm shattered. He ended up permanently disabled and lost his hearing from in infection that he incurred from his injuries.
Now, if this were a story that someone had made up, I would think it was unbelievably corny and maudlin. (except for the last part, of course.) But strangely enough, it happened.....you can look it up. And there were so many different incidents that it seems absurd to say that these could somehow be a lucky coincidences. I've had a little bit of statistics enough to know that it isn't likely.
I have mostly rejected the image of the god I grew up with but every once in a while I hear rumors that he is still around.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
We had lightning about a week ago and it fried my modem so we had to order another and then get it installed. Then my monitor, which had been hanging on by one circuit, finally bit the dust. Hence, I have not been writing.
But there is another reason as well. The weather is beautiful! And I have been unable to force myself to stay inside and I will probably feel this way until it finally gets up to 110 in the shade.
(By the way, the above picture is Demeter and Persephone. Demeter was the mother of Persephone. One day Persephone was abducted by Hades, the God of the Underworld. Demeter didn't know what had happened and she searched the Earth for her daughter. She became so sad and angry that she stopped all of the plants and flowers and trees from growing and the earth became barren. She finally found Persephone, and Hades and Demeter struck a deal. Persephone would be with her mother all year except in the winter. In the winter she would join Hades in the underground. Every year when this happens, the earth becomes barren again. Then when Persephone joins her mother in the Spring, the earth becomes abundant once more.)
My son graduated college and....guess what! I have an Aunt who lives in Malibu who has been in computers since they were big enough to fill warehouses. She has invited him to stay with her and wants to help him get a job. I told him...GO FOR IT! Honestly, he couldn't ask for a better mentor. And my grandmother is paying off Joel's loans! So, I've been kind of high and giddy about all of this lately.
Oh....and I want to learn to Belly dance.