esmond T. Doss, Sr., the only conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II and a long-time member of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, has died at 87.
Doss passed away Thursday morning, March 23, 2006, at his residence in Piedmont, Alabama. He is survived by his wife, Frances; his son, Desmond T. Doss, Jr.; and his brother, Harold Doss. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Dorothy Schutte, and his sister, Audrey Millner.
Doss never liked being called a conscientious objector. He frequently said that he preferred the term “conscientious cooperator.”
Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, Doss did not believe in using a gun or killing because of the sixth commandment, which states, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Doss was a patriot, however, and believed in serving his country.
During World War II, instead of accepting a deferment, Doss voluntarily joined the Army as a conscientious objector.
Assigned to the 307th Infantry Division as a company medic, he was harassed and ridiculed for his beliefs, yet he served with distinction and ultimately received the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 12, 1945, for his acts of bravery.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, time after time Doss’s fellow soldiers witnessed how unafraid he was for his own safety. He was always willing to go after a wounded fellow, no matter how great the danger. On one occasion, in Okinawa, Japan, he refused to take cover from enemy fire as he rescued approximately 75 wounded soldiers, carrying them one by one and lowering them over the edge of the 400-foot Maeda Escarpment. He did not stop until nearly 12 hours, later when he had brought everyone to safety.
When Doss received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman, the president told him, “I’m proud of you; you really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being president.”
Doss’s exemplary devotion to God and his country has received nationwide attention. On July 4, 2004, a statue of Doss was placed in the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta, Georgia, along with statues of Dr. Martin Luther King; former U.S. president Jimmy Carter; and retired Marine Corps general Gray Davis, also a Medal of Honor recipient. In 2004, a feature-length documentary titled The Conscientious Objector, which told Doss’s story of faith, heroism, and bravery, was released. A feature movie describing Doss’s story is also being planned.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America expresses its deepest sorrow in the loss of Desmond Doss,” said North American Division president Don Schneider in a written statement. “Desmond is considered to be a role model—especially to many of our members in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. His decision to not bear arms in the most dangerous of times was a courageous and heroic decision that has in turn affected many lives. We are proud to have had Desmond as a member of our Church.” —North American Division Communication Department/AR.
ADRA Promotes Empowerment of Women in War-Torn Somalia
o improve the qualify of life for internally displaced young women in the Garowe, Nugal, region of Puntland State of Somalia, ADRA/Somalia and the state organization called Somali Women’s Association (SWA) recently collaborated and launched a project called POWER (Promotion of Women Empowerment and Rights). Because of the struggling economy and the absence of skill-training opportunities in this war-torn region, POWER provides a way for young women to develop vocational and business self-improvement skills. Funded by Children at Risk, which is headquartered in Nijmegen, Netherlands, as well as ADRA/Switzerland, ADRA/Norway, and ADRA/Netherlands, and implemented by ADRA/Somalia, the POWER project targets 150 internally displaced girls and 900 of their family members.
LEARNING NEW SKILLS: ADRA/Somalia is helping young women in that country to develop vocational and business skills.
Eighteen-year-old Ifrah Shikh Ali is one of the 35 young women who participated in the first session of POWER. “Many of us had no money to buy the learning materials that the project required us to purchase before we could start classes,” said Ali. She added that she was determined to seek help, however, and visited the vocational training center run by SWA. The program directors agreed to purchase the needed materials for her and other young women who couldn’t afford to buy them.
“I couldn’t believe what SWA and ADRA had offered me, because it sounded like a dream,” she said. “I knew it would change my life for the better.”
ADRA/Somalia and SWA are now looking for ways to expand the program to other urban centers in Puntland.
Mozambique: Class Designed to Reverse Behavior Leading to HIV and AIDS Did you know that a positive self-image can stop a killer in its tracks? This message is an integral part of a six-month class on HIV and AIDS that 141 young adults in Mozambique’s capital of Maputo took last year. Ranging in age from 10 to 18 years old, participants took the class as members of Pathfinders—a worldwide organization of youth and young adults sponsored by the Adventist Church.
A 2003 United Nations HIV and AIDS surveillance report estimates 1.4 million of the country’s more than 19 million Mozambicans are living with the disease. The majority of new infections are occurring among those under the age of 29, according to the World Health Organization. With that information in mind, Nora de Leon, a registered nurse and a graduate student at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California, developed a Christ-centered curriculum to teach Pathfinders about the dangers of HIV and AIDS and how the disease can be prevented.
“I've had contact with youth in various scenarios that have broadened my understanding of how difficult it is for young people growing up in our current environment,” says de Leon. “After coming with my husband to Africa, I realized that I couldn’t live here and not give something back both to my church and the youth.”
The curriculum combined basic information on the human reproductive system and reproductive health issues, such as HIV and AIDS, with information designed to change behavior.
The program ran from April to November 2005, and was supported by Adventist leaders in Mozambique, the local Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Mozambique’s Ministry of Health, and Pathfinder International, a nongovernmental humanitarian organization not related to the Adventist Church.
--Adventist News Network/AR.
Two Attorneys Join Adventist World Headquarters Dionne A. Parker, an associate attorney with a Washington, D.C.-based firm who specialized in employment law, and Todd McFarland, a civil litigation specialist at a practice in Belleville, Illinois, have been appointed to the Adventist Church world headquarters as associate general counsels. Parker will handle employment and intellectual property issues, succeeding Walter E. Carson, who is now a general vice president of the Columbia Union Conference in Maryland. McFarland will assume the religious liberty portfolio held by veteran attorney Mitchell A. Tyner, who is retiring.
“Both of these attorneys bring significant expertise from private law practice to the Office of General Counsel,” Robert Kyte, general counsel for the world church, told the Adventist Review. “It is great when we obtain the benefits of their excellent legal backgrounds with their commitment to use that expertise for the mission of the Church.” --Adventist News Network/AR.
TENNESSEE: Former GC Communication Associate Dies Marvin Howard Reeder, who served as associate director of the General Conference Communication Department from 1962 until he retired on December 31, 1983, died from heart complications on January 28 in Chattanooga. He was 87.
Previous to coming to the General Conference, Reeder worked in several local conferences—including Colorado, West Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio—as a Publishing, Communication, and Religious Liberty director. He also headed the publishing work for the Japan Union from 1949 until 1955. He is survived by his wife, Leah Daphene; two sons; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. --AR.