Lynchburg College will host Dr. Charles Knapp for a discussion about the Lynchburg-born World War II hero Desmond Doss and the making of the movie “Hacksaw Ridge” on Monday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in Hall Campus Center’s Memorial Ballroom.
The lecture, titled, “A Lynchburg Hero Becomes a Legend,” is free and open to the public.
Dr. Knapp is a medical doctor who knew Doss, who is best known as a conscientious objector who received the Congressional Medal of Honor during WWII. As the volunteer chairman of the Desmond Doss Council, Dr. Knapp shares Doss’s life story and coordinates with production teams who work on stories about Doss — such as the 2016 film “Hacksaw Ridge.”
His visit to Lynchburg College will be the first public address he has given in Doss’s hometown.
Rachel Willis ’15 MA invited Dr. Knapp to Lynchburg in connection with a class she is teaching in the Westover Honors Program. The class explores stories of conflict over the past 100 years, from World War I to the present. “Dr. Knapp will add to our course as he personally knew Doss and can tell us more about his story,” said Willis. “He plans to discuss his involvement in the making of the movie Hacksaw Ridge, and this will contribute to our knowledge of how the story was told and what narrative choices were made.”
While Hacksaw Ridge was being filmed, Dr. Knapp visited the filming location as a representative of the Doss Council. He had numerous conversations with director Mel Gibson, producer Bill Mechanic, and many key members of the cast, including Andrew Garfield who portrayed Doss.
“Desmond Doss’s story is of local interest due to his Lynchburg origins and is significant to our course as a pacifist who resists violence while signing up for a war,” Willis said. “In the movie, Doss navigates military orders in conflict with his own values in addition to the conflict he engages in at the Ridge.”
Doss enlisted in the Army in 1942, but he refused to kill or carry a weapon into combat because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. He then became an Army combat medic and served in the Pacific Ocean Theater of WWII. Doss rescued at least 75 people during the American’s attempt to capture Hacksaw Ridge, earning the Congressional Medal of Honor. In addition to his Medal of Honor, Doss received a number of other honors including a Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf clusters, and a Bronze Star for valor with one Oak Leaf cluster.
“The public can also benefit from learning more about Doss as an important figure of local history and pride,” said Willis. “Dr. Knapp’s visit will give our community another historical and personal connections to Doss’s story.”