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This Is Why We Stand: Desmond Doss


Like all who served, Desmond T. Doss is a symbol of American strength and selflessness. His story is a reminder to us all that you don't always need to wield a weapon to serve your country. The mission to serve can be accomplished in many different ways.

Doss became a member of the United States Army in April of 1942, right in the thick of World War II. Due to his devout religious beliefs, Doss refused to handle weapons or work on the Sabbath. He was labeled as a conscientious objector by the Army because of this. In spite of these circumstances, Doss became a combat medic, seeing it as his best way to fulfill his duty. As most would expect, he endured harassment from all levels of the Army for his stance. Doss may have refused the gun, but he never refused to put himself in dangers way to save the lives of those around him.

For his actions during the battle for Okinawa in the Pacific theatre of WWII, Doss was eventually issued the Medal of Honor. During the infamous battle, American forces were driven back off a 400 foot ridge after a Japanese counterattack. Many wounded Americans were trapped on top of this ridge as a result. Doss was one of those Americans on that ridge. He refused to seek cover and carried each man to the edge of the ridge before lowering them by rope to friendly forces on the ground. Doss was credited with saving 75 soldiers in that situation.

Over the next two weeks, Doss continued to put himself in harms way so that others might live. He was eventually wounded, but rather than having another medic emerge from cover to save him, Doss cared for his injuries alone for five hours. When he was finally being carried off on a stretcher, Doss noticed another soldier who seemed worse off than he was. He then got off the stretcher and instructed the medics tending him to help that soldier instead.

Doss found his own way to honor his principles and never abandon his commitment to service. Like Doss, we all have the ability to serve our country in our own unique way. There is nothing that can stop us when we believe in what we are doing. If you don't believe that, all you have to do is remember the story of Desmond Doss.

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