A hero is someone who is admired or idolized for their courage and bravery. Atlas, a titan of Greek mythology, is an undiscovered hero. What if Atlas is compared to a real life war hero? Desmond Doss was considered a World War II hero. Atlas the Greek Titian is similar to Desmond Doss.
On April 1, Desmond Doss joined the United States army of sixteen million men in uniform during World War II. (DesmonDoss.com) Desmond was a believer in God. He felt it was his duty to obey his God and serve his country at the same time. Desmond Doss was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian who refused to carry a gun, who also refused to take another man's life. Desmond had an unshakeable desire to follow the Ten Commandments. In Desmond's mind, God said, "If you love me, you won't kill." With that picture firmly embedded in his mind, he determined that he would never take life. (The Official Site of the Seventh-Day Adventist World Church)
All soldiers were thought to carry weapons of some kind, but Desmond refused to do so. This of course made the other soldiers unhappy and they felt threated by walking side by side into a battle with another man would not have a weapon to defend himself or others. . His commanding officers and other soldiers saw him as a liability to their safety and welfare. This stirred up a lot of controversy with his unit. His fellow soldiers tried to intimidate him, scorn him, and threaten him. Desmond never wavered in his beliefs that God was first and his country was second. They thought a man who would go into battle without a weapon was not to be considered a worthy soldier. They tried everything they could go get to quit, to no avail.
The first major battle Desmond served in was in Guam. Across a period of several months, he repeatedly braved enemy gunfire and torrential rain and mud to rescue his companions (Hawkes, Rebecca) Desmond Doss received two Bronze Star Medals for valor, from this battle. Another battle of significance was in Okinawa. The American target was capturing the Maeda Escarpment, an imposing rock face the soldiers called, Hacksaw Ridge. (The Official Site of the Seventh-Day Adventist World Church) Desmond ran repeatedly to rescue his fellow soldiers as mortar shells and bullets came into his direction. Even disobeying orders for an immediate retreat, he pressed on to save lives. Desmond vowed that he would save as many lives as he could and the very least he was willing to die trying. With his determination and courage he was able to save over seventy-five lives at Hacksaw Ridge.
Sixteen million men served in World War II. Desmond's fellow soldiers and commanders found a new admiration for a man they persecuted for refusing to follow men and standing for what he so dearly believed in. There were 461 recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Desmond Doss was one of those recipients. Desmond was honored by President Harry S. Truman, and a war hero, at the White house several years after his action to save his fellow soldiers. In addition to his Medal of Honor, Desmond Doss received a Bronze Star for valor with one Oak Leaf cluster (signifying he received 2 Bronze Stars); a Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf clusters (signifying he received 3 Purple Hearts); the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars, and beachhead arrowhead (signifying he served in 4 combat campaigns including an amphibious landing under combat conditions); the Good Conduct Medal; the American Defense Campaign; and the not so common, Presidential Unit Citation given to the 1st Battalion, 307Inf, 77th Infantry Division for securing the Maeda Escarpment. (DesmonDoss.com)
Atlas was one of the most famous Titans, (GreekMythology.com) He had three brothers named Prometheus, Menoetius, and Epimetheus. Atlas and his brother, Menoetius, sided with the Titans in a war called the Titanomachy, which lasted for ten years. The other two brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus found themselves on opposing sides against the Olympians and the Greek Gods. The Titans were eventually defeated many of them were confined to a deep abyss used as a dungeon. (Britannica, the Editors of Encyclopedia).
The war was eventually lost by the Titians and won by the Olympians. Olympian Gods saw Atlas as a liability if he were free. Zeus punished Atlas by making him bear the weight of the heavens on his shoulders. Atlas was given this task in retribution for him leading the Titans into battle, or Titanomachy, against the Olympian Gods for control of the heavens. (www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Atlas/atlas.html)
Twelve Labours of Hercules is the most famous myth involving Atlas. Hercules was commanded by King Eurystheus to steal the golden apples from the fabled gardens of the Hesperides. (greekgodsandgoddesses.net/gods/atlas/) Hercules offered to take Atlas over his duties if he would steal the apples for him.
This was an offer would give Atlas a rest period and the opportunity to steal the apples for him.
When Atlas returned with the apples, Atlas didn't want to return to his duties and tried to leave Hercules with the duties of holding the weight of the heavens on his shoulders. Hercules tricked Atlas into swapping places so he could go get cushions to put on his shoulders, this would help him bear the weight. As soon as Atlas switched Hercules took the apples and left Atlas, never to return. Atlas was condemned to hold up the heavens for all eternity.
An oracle told Atlas that a son of Zeus would one day steal the golden apples guarded by his daughters. (Britannica, the Editors of Encyclopedia) When Perseus stopped to visit Atlas, he refused to let him in his home. Atlas feared to be tricked like he was when Hercules left him to hold up the heavens. The rejection made Perseus angry. Perseus showed him the head of Medusa and Atlas was turned into stone.
But Atlas rebelling against the gods of Olympus showed his strength and intelligence. Just as Desmond Doss refused to carry a weapon or kill anyone, also showed his strength and intelligence. Once could say that Desmond Doss and Atlas both showed courage and bravery. It could be said that Atlas holding up the heavens is a responsibility, not a punishment. Just as Desmond Doss took on the responsibility of saving his fellow man. Atlas showed the Titians to follow your beliefs just as Desmond did. Both of these heroes did not waiver in what they believed in. They both fought for what they thought was right.
Atlas was also known as a wise man and the founder of astronomy. (Cartwright) Atlas did not win any awards, but it all depends on what story one tells. Sometimes awards aren't the end game of a hero who stands up for what they believe. Both of these characters have carried the weight of the world on their shoulders. That is what a true hero does, regardless of the consequences or recognition.
Hawkes, Rebecca. Hacksaw Ridge: the Extraordinary True Story of Desmond Doss, the War Hero Who Refused to Kill. The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 4 Nov. 2016. Retrieved from: www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/mel-gibsons-hacksaw-ridge-the-extraordinary-true-story-of-desmon/
Desmond Doss. The Official Site of the Seventh-Day Adventist World Church. Retrieved from: www.adventist.org/en/service/religious-liberty/desmonddoss/
Desmond Doss: The Real Story. Retrieved from: https://desmonddoss.com/bio/bio-real.php
Britannica, the Editors of Encyclopedia. Atlas. Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1 Nov. 2018. Retrieved from: www.britannica.com/topic/Atlas-Greek-mythology
Atlas. Greek Mythology, GreekMythology.com Retrieved from: www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Atlas/atlas.html
Atlas - Facts and Information on The Greek Titan Who Held Up The Sky. Greek Gods & Goddesses, https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/gods/atlas/
Cartwright, Mark. Atlas. Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 1 Dec. 2018. Retrieved From: www.ancient.eu/Atlas/.
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