Hacksaw Ridge: A movie about a Christian man called a coward that saved 75 American lives

Written by Edwin L. Carpenter on . Posted in Local

poster02Directed by Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge is a faith-based movie that tells the true story of Desmond T. Doss, a medic in World War 11 and, because of his Christian faith, Doss fought as a conscientious objector. Tagged a "coward" and constantly prodded by military commanders to "go home", Desmond hung tough and stayed, going on to save 75 lives. He found the injured men following the battle at Hacksaw Ridge, and lowered them to safety by rope, facing great danger every time. He kept praying each moment after saving one, "Lord, just give me one more," and then he prayed this way again and again, until he had saved the 75.

Doss was a Seventh-day Adventist, and his conscience was guided by a framed poster of the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer, one his father had purchased where Doss grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia. An image on the poster of Cain holding a club above his dead slain brother, Abel, is an image Doss never forgot. He asked himself how a brother could do that to his sibling.

According to the book, Hero of Hacksaw Ridge, written by Booton Herndon, the men of the 77th infantry told him, "When we go into combat, Doss, you're not comin' back alive. I'm gonna shoot you myself!" They added, "You're nothing but a coward!" But Doss stuck to his firm belief that his mission was not to kill, but to heal. His fellow soldiers changed their minds after being rescued by him and seeing how he put himself at great personal risk.

It was during a horrifying day in the desperate battle for Okinawa when Desmond's fellow soldiers—and aggressors—lay wounded and bloody at the top of Hacksaw Ridge. It was in that moment that the man labeled a "coward" became a hero, and began to save one life after another, with the enemy nearby and approaching to ensure the American soldiers were dead. Desmond went on to be awarded the highest military honor given, the distinguished Medal of Honor, hung around his neck by President Harry S. Truman. This was for his personal acts of valor, above and beyond the call of duty.

The Mel Gibson film, which is superbly directed, features violent and realistic scenes of the war, often bloody with soldiers with missing legs being seen writhing in agony, and intestines laying on the ground. But, despite a few curse words here and there, God's name is not taken in vain in the movie, and the film does a good job in portraying Doss, a man that constantly reads his Bible, prays, and falls in love with a young nurse named Dorothy (portrayed by Teresa Palmer). Andrew Garfield expertly plays Doss, capturing his resolve and the many emotions he goes through as he bridges the journey from the scalding remarks of his fellow soldiers, to being viewed as a hero by them.

The real Desmond T. Doss passed away in 2006 at the age of 87. His lasting legacy is the story of a man that, after being labeled a coward, displayed a compelling faith in God and showed a powerful courage that few men display. Hacksaw Ridge is currently playing in theaters.
Author Information
Edwin L. Carpenter
Edwin L. Carpenter is a pastor and long-time film reviewer for Dove.org He has a bachelors degree in Writing from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. He was raised in Brighton, Mich., by Christian grandparents and has a twin brother, Bill, who is also an ordained minister. Ed and his wife Jackie have one child, Daniel, who is newly married to Kristen and loves sports.

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