Memorial Day Eve

Many Memorial Days ago, we were living on Lookout Mountain on the Georgia side. One of our neighbors was Desmond T. Doss, the only living conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. (It was awarded to two others posthumously.) He was a humble sort and he worked as hard as his body allowed. He’d lost a lung to the ravages of TB. As a result, he couldn’t swim and almost drowned in his pond when his canoe capsized. Fortunately, someone saw his dilemma and pulled him out.

desmond dossHis nice but modest home where he and his wife, Dorothy, lived was about a mile through the woods from the house we were renting.

There was a big field beside “our” house and he’d bring his ancient tractor to bush-hog it when the weeds got high. When planting time came, he plowed it and got it ready for the kale and collards I put out in mid-summer.

Once, he came to the house and told me in his thick Virginia accent complicated by his almost total deafness (he had a cochlear implant) to come see what he’d run over. It was a black snake in the process of swallowing a copperhead. Neither snake survived but it made it clear to me that black snakes are a valuable asset.

We knew about his background. He’d been a celebrated figure from the first I could remember. His experiences during the war had taken place when I was just a toddler. Even though he usually wound up in the spotlight wherever he went, he was really quite shy and retiring. He would always cooperate and he’d witness for his strong and never wavering faith.

He “cleaned up nice” on Sabbath but, during the week, he was always in work clothes — generally overalls and a plaid shirt. Always ready to help anyone do anything, he was easily reached through Dorothy.

It was after we’d moved away from Lookout Mountain that we got the news that his Dorothy had died in an auto accident. He lived as a widower until he met and married his second wife, Frances. They lived in his Lookout Mountain home until it became necessary for them to move to Alabama.

The day of the sale of their belongings was a nice, sunshiny one. DS1 attended the sale and he said that while Desmond was smiling and cheerful as usual, it was obviously a sad day, too. Bit by bit, the memorabilia was snapped up at, probably, a fraction of its worth. DS1 said he would have bought the tall replica of the Statue of Liberty but he didn’t have the money or a place to put it. It was one of the few things that didn’t sell.

March 23, 2006, was a sad day. Desmond had been in the hospital for breathing difficulties (I can relate) but was at home when he died. His memorial was at the university church on April 1. It was full to overflowing except for three completely empty pews. DH’s two brothers and their wives were there. The older brother is deceased now.

The Internet is full of articles and stories about Desmond. All you have to do is Google his name and you can spend hours reading. Books have been written about him and a documentary came out a number of years ago. Mel Gibson has a movie in the works (“Hacksaw Ridge”) due to be released in November of this year. I hope it does him justice.

Today has been a quiet day for the most part. DD called and, after I had attempted to talk over coughing several times, I told her to talk and I’d listen. It was a one-sided conversation for much of the hour until I could manage more than a few words with hocking up a lung.

Facebook is bad about not alerting me when DD posts something. She’d uploaded pictures of the land on March 25. I’d seen ONE of the pictures and “liked” it but not the others. She told me about them today. When I looked at them, it was obvious that my “like” had even disappeared. Sometimes I wonder about Facebook…


Well, it’s late and I need to wind this up. I saw the above image the other night when I was looking for “tired”. Right now, I agree. It’s time to stop the violence.

4 Responses to Memorial Day Eve

  1. Lila May 30, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    If Desmond’s eyes could have been opened to another dimension that fateful day, I wonder how many angels he might have seen surrounding him and deflecting the bullets.

    • Tommie May 30, 2016 at 9:19 am #

      At least two at a time — his and the wounded one’s he was rescuing.

  2. Paul May 31, 2016 at 11:52 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this story, Tommie. I’d never heard of Mr Doss. I’m a pacifist, myself, and I feel that Mr Doss embodies true heroism – to be the face (and hands and feet) of God’s healing and protection for all His children. How fortunate you were to have known him!

    • Tommie June 1, 2016 at 12:39 am #

      Maybe God’s hand was in my writing about him. It seemed so appropriate for Memorial Day. An account of his bravery can be found here and a write-up regarding the upcoming movie here. My husband was also a “conscientious cooperator” and was an Army medic in Vietnam. Desmond continues to be an inspiration 10 years after his death. He’d be amazed.

Leave a Reply to Paul Click here to cancel reply.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.