On Nov. 2, 2016 this verse was remembered by me when first quoted by then 2nd. Lt. Bob Dees (later a Major General U.S. Army) upon visiting around 1972-1973 a Bible study in Dallas, led by my classmate Andy Seidel and his wife Gail. Dees spoke about what sustained him spiritually in what may be considered the most physically challenging Army training, Ranger school. It had come to my mind again when there was a gathering of my veteran clan, comprising as it is written in I Chronicles 7:2 (KJV), "...they were valiant men of might in their generation;" Doug, John, Patrick, Don, Woody, Chuck, Hamp, Al, Curtis, Ira, Scott,Hank, Karl, Jess, Wade, Gene, John, Ben, Chris, Lewis, and Steven.
They and other veterans, their spouses, and VA personnel had gathered for a showing of a new movie about to be released Nov. 4, "Hacksaw Ridge," directed by Mel Gibson, who starred in other great movies such as "Braveheart" and "We Were Soldiers." The movie will not soon be forgotten by me. Desert Storm veteran Wade Myers (Ranger-qualified by the way), who organized the showing (with the assistance of Marine Gene Blanton and myself) had his adorable ten year old daughter Sophia lead us in the singing of our National Anthem. And, by the way, no one in the theatre "took a knee."
It was my privilege to introduce the film and these are the words I spoke, not yet even having seen it; "It is not entertaining. The takeaways are faith, courage, inspiration, cameraderie, devotion to duty, and sheer determination to serve the cause of freedom so children like Sophia all over the world can live in freedom. Bow your heads please as I offer a blessing for all those who have lived in and served this land of the free because of the brave." The movie about Medal of Honor Recipient Desmond Doss on Okinawa in 1945 encompassed all of the above attributes and much much more. The Purple Hearters, Combat Medics, and Navy Corpsmen were recognized.
I prayed, "Our Father in Heaven, we come before you in this assembly with gratitude for our great land, for gratitude as the Chronicles in our Bible relate about the valiant men of might in their generations, for our men and women present, who have sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears in faraway lands against enemies of justice and liberty. May our wounds of body, soul, and spirit be healed as we recognize the value of our endeavors. We pray this in the Name of Jesus the Christ. Amen."
The movie commenced with a scene of incredible violence and carnage on that Okinawa battlefield. Violence was all-pervasive throughout the film. Wade Myers, who had personally previously met and conversed with Mel Gibson, said Gibson explained the violence had to be extended to reflect indelibly on the viewers the miraculous nature of the courage exhibited by Doss as he moved through shelling and close by enemy soldiers to carry off the battlefield no less than seventy five wounded Americans. On lighter notes there is a warm romantic appeal in the courting and marriage before his departure of a local nurse.
In 1992 in Tennessee it had been my privilege to meet the "real-life" Desmond Doss at a national cemetery ceremony. How well I recollect the still slight and thin Doss, humble and unassuming. At the beginning of WWII Doss was living in Lynchburg, VA, a devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist denomination. He took literally the Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" and thus joined the Army, undergirded with a strong conviction of personal faith in his Christian upbringing that he would not go into harms way armed with a rifle. Only a man of strong faith with the power of God within him could have withstood discrimination in the Army because he refused to carry a rifle, sticking to a belief to become a combat medic and "save" rather than "take" lives. He claimed Conscientious Objector status and off he went to the Pacific with the 77th Infantry Division. One must see the movie itself to grasp the extraordinary and perhaps even superhuman feats he accomplished as he evacuated wounded fellow comrade after fellow comrade. Each time he returned to the corpse-strewn battlefield, scarred by shelling, he repeated, "One More." He did not stop until all he found were evacuated.
It is not within the small range of my verbal ability to place in appropriate words the scope of what this film reflects in faith in God, conviction, redemption, forgiveness, and sheer physical courage. One must see the movie for oneself to grasp the message.
Doss' division was the "Statue of Liberty" Division. Mark Alexander of the "Patriot Post" reviewed the film and quoted President Ronald Reagan:
"In 1992, during one of Ronald Reagan's last public addresses, he offered these words about honoring our legacy of freedom: 'My fondest hope for each one of you is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here. May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism. And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill.'"
Our heroic origins have been kept alive and flourished again and again in our nation's history because of the valiant men and women who put their lives on the line to serve in the armed forces of the land of the free because of the brave, the United States of America. Desmond Doss represented the epitome of the attributes that have represented our great America.
My final observation for each of us is, will we individually be that "One More" that believes Jesus is truly the Son of God? Will we take to heart the responsibility to extend the Gospel message to reach that "One More" spiritually to live in Heaven just as Desmond Doss kept saving off the secular battlefield just "One More."