I have been seeing a lot of Memorial Day Movie List lately, and although some of the list are commendable, some of the list just plain suck!
So being a veteran, (and historian) I thought I might give you guys my List. I will warn you..It’s long and I did not number them because there is no certain ranking order; they are all good IMO and worth watching.
While you are enjoying the movies this Memorial Day Weekend with your Family and Friends, Remember these words. I am not sure of the author..I found it written inside a book I bought at a Garage Sale on the Revolutionary War. It was dated 1957.
“WHEN YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT IT, EVERYTHING IN LIFE WORTH SOMETHING, COST SOMETHING, SO WHY SHOULD FREEDOM BE ANY DIFFERENT? IF YOU ARE ENJOYING THE BENEFITS OF FREEDOM, NO MATTER HOW SMALL OR MUNDANE THEY MAY BE, IT MEANS SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE, HAD TO PAY FOR IT. NOTHING (EXCEPT THE GRACE OF GOD) IS EVER FREE IN LIFE, SO FOR US TO SIT HERE AND ENJOY THE FREEDOMS WE HAVE TODAY MEANS SOMEBODY, AT SOME POINT IN HISTORY, HAD TO FIGHT AND PAY TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE. WE CAN NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF THAT FACT AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, WE CAN NEVER LET GENERATIONS THAT COME AFTER US LOSE SIGHT OF THAT FACT, BECAUSE AS SOON AS THEY DO, THIS REPUBLIC WILL PERISH FROM THE EARTH”
I know I said there was no order, but if you can, watch this one first. This is one of those movies that is more about the true COST of War than about War itself and I think More Americans need to understand that. Not a run n’ gun type flick, but definitely one that will grab your heart and make you think.
Sebastian Junger and Time Heatherington broke the mold for “Embedded Journalism” with this one and made one of the finest War Documentaries ever. Most War documentaries are so heavily edited they rarely show you the complete picture of men in action. Restrepo holds nothing back. You get to see war in all of it’s Rawness and Horror with a little levity and humor mixed in as well.
The Railway Man
This movie went right under the radar of a lot of people, but I thought it an outstanding movie in a lot of respects. Both of the story of the British POW soldiers who endured the virtual HELL ON EARTH working conditions of the Thai-Burma Railway ran by the Japanese in WW2 and of the Hell On Earth that PTSD can be for some returning veterans, regardless of what War they fought in.
My Favorite Vietnam War Movie. I actually own 3 different versions of this movie, but the Original is the one I recommend. No other War Movie has been quoted more by popular culture than this one (I Think). I remember when I learned the story for the movie was adapted from the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad it really got me into Literature.
Full Metal Jacket
Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam Masterpiece and the Movie that introduced us all to the loveable R. Lee Ermey and made countless numbers of young men want to be Marines.
Flags of our Fathers
Next to Saving Private Ryan, this is one of my FAVORITE all time WW2 Movies. I remember reading the book while deployed and it just blew me away. This movie (and Not American Sniper) is one of Eastwood’s best War Films by far.
Amazing true story of Olympian Louis Zamperini who after his B-24 is shot down over the Pacific, spent 47 days on a raft with his crew before becoming a POW and spending several years in a Japanese prison camp.
The True story of World War II American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.
To Hell And Back Again
What happens to Wounded War Veterans when they return home?If You want an unvarnished, gritty look at that reality, watch this film. Just like any War film it is hard to watch, but I think it should be to remind people of the hardship these brave men and women have to endure when they get back. Support worthwhile Wounded Veterans charities!
Saving Private Ryan
OK, so there is really not a lot I can say about this movie except it is THE BEST WW2 War Movie ever made in this authors opinion.
Band of Brothers (Entire DVD Set)
Me and my son watch this every Memorial Day. I know this is technically not a singular “movie” but it is one of the best mini-series EVER made about a WW2 Combat unit. If you do not own the DVD or Blue-Ray set, do yourself a favor and buy it today and watch it every Memorial Day like we do!
Another HBO Mini-Series Produced by Spielberg and Tom Hanks that tells the story of the Pacific Campaign of World War Two as seen through the eyes of several young Marines such as Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie and John Basilone.
Come and See
A Russian Made Film about the Horrors of Nazi Genocide on the Eastern Front in WW2. This is a tough and gritty War Movie, that cuts out the melodramatic crap you find in most WW2 period pieces of this kind…but hey it’s Russian, so what did you expect?
Black Hawk Down
One of the best movies about Modern Urban War ever made. As a supplement to this I would highly recommend a Documentary DVD called The Battle of the Black Sea made by one of the actual members of Delta Force that was there that Fateful Day, Mr. Paul Howe.
The Hurt Locker
You will come away from this movie with a greater appreciation for people who diffuse bombs without a doubt. This is my favorite Kathryn Bigelow movie next to K-19: The Widowmaker.
Above and Beyond
A Netflix Documentary about a group of WW2 Aviators who, after surviving the War, went back to Fight and Protect their “other” Homeland; Israel. The Courage of these men absolutely inspires me and it should you too.
This is one of the Hardest War movies to watch for me personally, bu it is definitely one of the most Amazing War Stories of the 21st Century.
The Tillman Story
The Story of Pat Tillman is absolutely one of the most amazing and heartbreaking tales you will ever hear. It is stories like this we need to pass down to future generations because it is MEN like Pat Tillman that make it all possible.
Generation Kill (Entire Mini-Series)
Again not a singular movie, but this short HBO Mini-series about the 1st Marine Recon Division as it trail blazes into Iraq in 2003 is one of the only worthwhile series (or movies for that matter) made about the Iraq War. It shows both the horrors of Modern War and the absolute hilarious (and at times dumb ass) behavior that occurs in a Forward Deployed Military Combat Unit.
13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
I debated on including this one but in the end I feel it is a movie We All need to watch, if for no other reason to remind ourselves of what Serving A Cause Higher than Ourselves really means and also so the INJUSTICE that was committed that day by Politicians and Bureaucrats is Brought to Justice.
I could not include fellow Texan Marcus Luttrell’s Amazing Story in Lone Survivor without including another fellow Texan, Chris Kyles Story as well. This movie is more about how the EFFECTS of War than War Itself IMO, but irregardless it is great watch.
The Thin Red Line
This movie got released around the same time as Saving Private Ryan in 1998 and therefore it got heavily overshadowed at the Box Office. Based on the James Jones Novel about the Battle at Guadalcanal in 1942, this movie has an all-star cast and I think it will stand the test of time as one of the best movies about one of the most intense Battles of the World War Two Pacific Campaign ever made.
Paths of Glory
Kubricks Anti-War Masterpiece of WW1, I remember first watching this movie with my late grandfather. He told me when we finished watching it that “In ANY War, Bad Officers making Bad Descisions get more Good men killed than enemy bullets or bombs.”
Beneath Hill 60
One of those “Below the Radar” World War One Movies, Beneath Hill 60 is about a little known Outfit during WW1 composed of Australian and New Zealand Miners that were tasked with digging tunnels BENEATH the German defenses. The only problem is the Germans were trying to do the same thing!
Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!