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Pres. Truman presents Congressional Medal of Honor to Cpl. Desmond T. Doss, Photograph, 1945

Context

Lynchburg native Desmond T. Doss (1919-2006) was the first conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. The award was given for his bravery on Okinawa in May 1945.  Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist, objected to killing and refused to carry a weapon.  He served as an Army medical corpsman, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry Medical Detachment, 77th Infantry Division.  Doss is credited with saving the lives of at least 75 wounded soldiers. Part of his citation states, "Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty."

Read more in Out of the Box.

Citation: President Harry S. Truman presents the Congressional Medal of Honor to Cpl. Desmond T. Doss, 12 October 1945, U.S. Army Photo, Records of the Virginia World War II History Commission, Miscellaneous Material, Box 1a, Folder 5, Accession 27544, State Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

Standards

Social Studies: VS.1, VS.9, US.II.1, USII.7, VUS.1, VUS.11
Art: 4.1, 5.1

Suggested Questions

Up for Debate: Ho do you think the military should handle cases of conscientious objectors? Learn about the process from the Selective Service System and take a stance in support of or against the current policies.

Artistic Expression: Design a WWII-style poster commemorating Doss' award. (You can find examples here in DBVa and on the LVA website.)

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