To celebrate the release of Hacksaw Ridge on DVD in the UK and Conscientious Objectors Day we chatted with Desmond Doss Jr about his father Desmond T. Doss, the conscientious objector who saved 75 men in Okinawa, during the bloodiest battle of WWII, without firing a single shot, on which the film Hacksaw Ridge is based.
How did your father’s story impact you as you grew up?
To me he is just my Dad
What is your fondest memory of him?
At the end, my Dad was blind and deaf. Two weeks before he died I visited, and we just held each other for a very long time.
How did your father live out what he believed no matter what people thought of him?
By simply being himself
How did your father feel receiving the Medal of Honour?
I don’t know, but He always wanted the glory to go to his God.
How do you feel seeing your father’s story on the big screen?
I sat down to watch a movie. They said it was about my Dad.
I was in no way prepared for what I saw. A home where conflict often existed. A young boy, his character being formed, sometimes by trial and error, always supported by his mother. I could feel the love that would shape and influence him for the rest of his life.
I sat in amazement as the images portrayed my mother and father in a time before I was born, falling in love, struggling with the prospect of being apart, and standing together in dire adversity.
The incomprehensible choices my father faced because of his convictions, the unimaginable conditions on the battle field, the absolute grit and determination required to rescue his fellow soldiers, all played out on the screen.
I knew these stories by heart, could recite them verbatim, but this was different. Now, in living color these events unfolded before my very eyes.
The actors so closely resembled the people I loved, that at times I felt that I was actually seeing my Mom, and enjoyed moments of intense closeness. I came away with a new appreciation for my father, who he was, what he stood for, the incredible love that drove him.
I could not hold back the tears. What I saw was a true love story.
What was the highlight of the film for you?
The scenes portraying his formative years
Why do you think this story is important to be told today?
He demonstrated that unconditional love, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness, are possible even in the most adverse circumstances
What do you think people will take away from watching the film?
That it is possible for ordinary people to develop unconditional love, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness.