Loving people who are good to you comes easy. But how can you show love to someone who mistreats, hurts and maligns you? Matt Parra holds Desmond Doss up as a strong example of someone who has the courage and conviction to repeatedly show love – regardless of how he’s treated in return.
By sticking by her husband’s side through thick and thin for 49 years, Dorothy Doss really exemplified the old adage “behind every great man is a great woman”.
By Linden Chuang.
It would be easy for those who have watched Hacksaw Ridge to label Dorothy Schutte as the “love interest” or “pretty face” in the movie. Doing so, however, would be a tremendous injustice to the woman who was as much a champion of faith as her war-hero husband.
The love between Dorothy and Desmond was anchored in faith. The two met at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Lynchburg, Virginia, and were married on August 17, 1942. Dorothy said she married Desmond because she could trust him. “He was a good Christian and I figured he would help me go to Heaven.”
If that doesn’t sound very romantic, don’t worry—there were plenty of fuzzy feelings too. “He was the first one I ever kissed,” she added.
The Bible which Desmond so famously carried through his army experience was a gift from Dorothy, which she inscribed with the following message: “If we do not meet another time on this earth, we have the assurance of a happy meeting place in heaven. May God in His mercy grant us both a place there.”
Desmond returned from the war but with scars that wouldn’t heal so swiftly. He would spend the next six years in hospital getting treatment for Tuberculosis, with the disease leaving him 90 per cent disabled and claiming one of his lungs and five ribs.
With Desmond confined to the hospital bed, Dorothy would raise their son Desmond “Tommy” Jr alone for the first five years of his life. She also completed her nursing training to help support her family financially.
Despite the hardships, Dorothy’s faith and love for her family remained strong. In 1976 Desmond lost his hearing due to complications with the Tuberculosis antibiotics. Dorothy began writing messages to him so they could communicate, jokingly calling herself his “hearing ear dog”.
Dorothy would have her battles with sickness too. She was diagnosed and underwent surgery for breast cancer in 1982. Her health improved over the next eight years before rapidly deteriorating.
On November 17, 1991, the Dosses were on their way to the hospital for one of her regular treatments when Desmond lost control of the car. The vehicle plunged down an embankment and Dorothy was killed as it rolled over. According to an interview with Tommy in the Chinook Observer, the accident happened less than a mile from their home at Lookout Mountain. He believes Dorothy died instantly. She was 70 years old.
They say “behind every great man is a great woman”. Yet even this quote fails to aptly describe Dorothy Schutte Doss. In 49 years of marriage she was right by her husband’s side as his spiritual counterpart, and the two of them accomplished great things for God as a result.
These sentiments echo Tommy’s own thoughts of his mother. He said, “She’s the most underrated person in this whole thing. So much of what has happened to my dad would not have happened had it not been for her.”
So the next time you watch or read the story of Hacksaw Ridge, think about the faith of Doss. Both Mr and Mrs.
The image of Desmond, Dorothy and other members of the Doss family is provided by the Desmond Doss Council.
Desmond Doss credits his heroic bravery at Hacksaw Ridge to God. But where was God?
Why did He allow the carnage of World War II to even happen? Why does he allow so much suffering and pain to just go on?
Journey through time, space and the Bible with Cristian this Friday at 6:30pm to discover the answers to these questions.
If you’ve enjoyed tonight’s discussion, make sure to register to receive your copy of The Hero of Hacksaw Ridge, the official biography of Desmond Doss. You can also try your hand at the Online Challenge and then continue following in Doss’ footsteps with our Online Study Guides.
Meet Cristian Copaceanu
Cristian has travelled throughout Australia, New Zealand and beyond conducting public presentations on history, faith and spirituality. He is also the founder of Faith FM, one of Australia’s largest radio networks with over 120 stations on air around the country. He currently resides in Melbourne with his wife and two daughters where he works as the Community Engagement Director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia.
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Australian actor Goran D Kleut shares his thoughts while on the red carpet for the Australian launch of Hacksaw Ridge.
“It’s beautiful, refreshing – and we need more of that in our world.” This up-and-coming Australian actor discusses the touching relationship between Dorothy and Desmond Doss.