In our last post, we discussed free events that a senior living in Cincinnati could attend this weekend to celebrate Memorial Day. But if you can’t readily get out and about or if rain ruins your Memorial Day Weekend plans, there are still other ways you can observe Memorial Day and remember our servicemen and servicewomen.
One way is to watch movies that depict the heroism American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have shown throughout history. So pull up your Netflix or Amazon account, rent a DVD from Redbox, or order your copy of any of the following 10 great movies to watch over Memorial Day weekend:
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington
The story of the first all-black volunteer company in the Union Army — the 51st Massachusetts — examines the American Civil War from the perspective of those who had the most to lose had the Confederacy won. It shows how hypocrisy, duality and racism were endemic even in the Union Army, and how heroism and pride brought freedom to a people.
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray
Greater Cincinnati’s own George Clooney wrote, directed and starred in the film that demonstrates the struggle to save both people and culture during World War II. U.S. President Roosevelt tasked an unlikely platoon of men with the mission of rescuing artworks stolen by the Nazis. After the Nero Decree was issued by Hitler, the Monuments Men had to go into overdrive. Not only did they have to recover the millions of pieces of art stolen by the Nazis, but they also had to retrieve them before Russian troops seized the artworks with no intention of returning them. Through the compelling stories of bravery of the men, the director makes a strong case for the belief that saving the world is about more than just saving its people.
Starring: Rick Schroder
This feature-length TV movie tells the story of an American battalion surrounded and cut off by German forces in the bloody Battle of the Argonnes in October 1918 — just days before the Armistice that would end the Great War.
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed
In the days leading up to Pearl Harbor, a young soldier serving in Hawaii learns about love, loss and the corrupting influence of power. Based on the acclaimed debut novel by World War II veteran James Jones, which was in turn based on Jones’ experiences serving in the 27th Infantry Division.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon
Steven Spielberg’s tale of a U.S. Army Ranger captain’s mission to go behind enemy lines in Normandy and rescue an American paratrooper whose brothers have all been killed in action. This film is widely regarded by World War II veterans as one of the most accurate portrayals ever made of the D-Day landings.
Starring: Ryan Philippe, Barry Pepper, Joseph Cross
Clint Eastwood directed this biopic about the six men who participated in the staged raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, and how their fame was cynically exploited by the military command, even as they had difficulty readjusting to stateside life.
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt, Elliott Gould
Robert Altman directed this dark comedy about the doctors, nurses and personnel of a U.S. Army mobile surgical hospital (MASH) unit in the Korean War. This film inspired the later TV show.
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger
Oliver Stone brought us this gritty Vietnam War story of a volunteer soldier, torn between loyalty to his country and faithful adherence to his sense of ethics, while serving in a long-range reconnaissance platoon during the conflict’s “search-and-destroy” era. Based on Stone’s own experiences in Vietnam.
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore
Ridley Scott directed this portrayal of a real-life incident in which the crew of a U.S. Army helicopter was shot down over Mogadishu and surrounded by a hostile warlord’s soldiers, during the failed 1992 U.S. invasion of Somalia.
Starring: Bradley Cooper
Clint Eastwood directed this blockbuster film about the late Chris Kyle, a U.S. Army Ranger sniper, PTSD sufferer and controversial figure. This War on Terror drama will make you consider some of the ambiguities that surround the notion of what exactly constitutes valor.
These movies portray the realities of war.
In the list above, you’ll find excellent, accurate depictions of the often conflicted emotions our troops deal with in service to our country. You’ll find movies that realistically portray some of the historic moments our troops have faced — and the often heartbreaking aftermath. They’re not necessarily movies to make you feel good.
But if the point of Memorial Day is to commemorate the difficulties faced by our servicemen and women in the line of duty, these movies will certainly put you in the right frame of mind.