There are many ways to honor our fallen heroes this Memorial Day by attending parades in their honor, donating funds to their memories, and praying for their souls.
One way that I like to remind myself of their heroism is through the art of movies. Understanding that the dramatic representation of their experiences is nothing compared to the reality, I find that I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude when I see the price of freedom presented on screen.
Here are the best Memorial Day movies to watch.
1. Saving Private Ryan
Spielberg won his second directing Oscar for this movie and I believe it was primarily for the Normandy invasion scene. What I saw was ordinary men doing extraordinary things in horrific circumstances. Not only was I riveted by the awful violence faced, I was moved by acts of courage and compassion, like seeing a priest hearing a dying soldier's confession amidst gun-fire. They paid in blood the freedom we enjoy. And I always think of the line in the final moments of the film: "Earn this!" That echoes with me on Memorial Day and reminds me that I have to use this dearly bought freedom to make the world better.
Very few movies underscore the importance of valor in combat like Glory. These men ran into the jaws of death with little hope of victory, but it was their courage that made all of the difference for the larger war in front of them.
3. We Were Soldiers
Not only is this a harrowing war film, but this is one of the best Memorial Day movies that reminds us of the sacrifice that the families of soldiers must also endure during war time.
4. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
This story is important because it reminds us what Memorial Day is all about: we must remember those who sacrificed. Unfortunately, this story is such a political football that people forget that it is primarily about soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect others even with no help in sight.
5. American Sniper
A friend of mine has said that there are a lot of bad things about Chris Kyle's life that the movie glossed over. I have not had a chance to investigate those claims yet. Nevertheless, the film is the best one that Clint Eastwood directed and it focuses so much on the cost of fighting evil on not only the lives of our soldiers but on their souls. And I finish the movie with a much deeper appreciation of the heroic fight against our enemies but also the fight to regain a normal life.
6. Hacksaw Ridge
Everything that is ideal in a soldier is displayed in Desmond Doss. He is valiant and compassionate. He placed himself into harm's way to help others while not condemning those who used violence to defend us. And all at the same time he witnessed to his faith in God as his guiding light while suffering through the hell of war.
7. Midway (2019)
The thing that strikes me the most about this movie is the absolute commitment of some of these sailors and pilots like Dick Best who gave everything they had for the opportunity to keep fighting. In one scene, a pilot is clearly injured and could take a break. Instead, he pushes himself so that he can take the fight to the enemy. This is a level of bravery that moves and inspires me to no end.
One of the best things about this movie is how it isolates you into the perspective of the head battleship of a convoy making its way from America to Europe. Like the men on the boat, you have no idea where the next crisis is coming from and you cannot see where the enemy is or how many are out there. But you have to push through and protect as many as you can. Once again, you see amazing, sacrificial courage on display.