11 November 2023 |
Summary of an article released in the Longview News-Journal, updated November 6, 2023. The full article can be found here.
In the quiet lobby of a Holiday Inn, Desmond Doss Jr. reflected on the legacy of his parents, both heroes in their own right. His father, a World War II U.S. Army medic and Medal of Honor recipient, was celebrated for saving 75 soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa. This remarkable story, immortalized in the film Hacksaw Ridge, often overshadowed another hero: his mother, Dorothy.
Dorothy, a nurse and teacher, cared for Desmond Jr. and her husband, who battled tuberculosis and was left deaf and nearly blind. She embodied heroism in her everyday life, touching the lives of many with her compassion and strength. Despite the attention his father received, Desmond Jr. saw his mother’s quiet, enduring love as equally heroic.
Desmond Sr.’s story is well-known: his unwavering faith and commitment to saving lives without ever carrying a weapon. He prayed for the strength to save “just one more” soldier, a prayer that guided him through the horrors of war. Less known is the story of Dorothy, who met Desmond at church and married him in 1942. Their love was a constant in Desmond’s life, symbolized by a small Bible with Dorothy’s photo that he carried throughout the war.
After the war, Desmond spent years in a hospital, leaving Dorothy to raise their son and work. She endured immense stress, eventually suffering a nervous breakdown, but recovered to live a normal life with her family.
Desmond Jr. grew up to follow in his parents’ footsteps, serving as an army medic, firefighter, and paramedic. As he shared his parents’ story with students and at veterans’ events, he emphasized that heroism isn’t limited to the battlefield. His mother’s life of service and love was a testament to that.
Desmond Sr.’s heroism extended beyond Okinawa. He continued to save lives in various community roles and even rescued missing Boy Scouts in his later years. Despite the fame, he and Dorothy lived a simple life in a log cabin without modern amenities.
Desmond Jr.’s journey to understand his father led him to spend a night on Hacksaw Ridge, where he fully grasped the depth of his father’s bravery and love. He came to admire his father not just as a war hero, but as a remarkable human being.
Through his talks, Desmond Jr. hopes to convey that heroism comes in many forms, not just on the battlefield. Now, he spends some of his time at places like Brook Hill School, recounting the story of not one heroic parent, but two. He said his parents’ shared life was, and is, a love story.