In April 1942, 23-year-old Desmond Doss was drafted into the U.S. army. Unlike the other soldiers, Desmond refused to carry a gun. Because of his Christian faith, he was a conscientious objector.
Desmond Doss’s story, which has been made into a film (The Conscientious Objector), is an amazing chronicle of perseverance, compassion, and bravery. He was harassed and reviled by his army comrades for his unconventional beliefs, yet he stood his ground. He performed his duties as a medic with great courage, on many occasions risking his life on the battlefield to rescue his wounded comrades. But during his four years in the army, he never fired a gun and he killed no one.
Growing up, Desmond was fascinated by a poster picturing the 10 Commandments hanging in the family kitchen. He was particularly transfixed by the 6th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” which was printed above a sketch of Cain killing Abel. “How in the world could a brother do such a thing?” the young Desmond wondered.
Desmond found that on the battlefield, he could draw strength by imagining Jesus beside him in the rain of bullets, “with an aid kit like me.”
When the war ended, Desmond had earned the respect of his army comrades. He was also the first conscientious objector to receive his country’s Medal of Honor. Later a comic book told his story. It’s title: Hero without a gun.
This Sunday, November 9, is Peace Sunday. It’s a Sunday when we remember another hero without a gun, named Jesus. Instead of taking the lives of his enemies, he died for them, and instructed his followers to follow his example. That’s not easy, when one’s country faces an external enemy and taking up arms in its defense is considered the proper, responsible, and the most “loving” thing to do. We need stories of saints like Desmond Doss, who faced and surmounted great trial and suffering because the 10 Commandments and the example of Jesus were the only way to live.