Honoring those who sacrificed for our country on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is coming up and there are many traditions that go along with the occasion. Of course, it’s kind of the unofficial start of summer (the official one being Thursday, June 20th), so there will be lots of summer activities. Many people will be using the long weekend to go on vacation. The beaches, lake shores and mountain resorts will surely be packed this weekend.

However, many of us will spend Memorial Day weekend at home, maybe having friends or family over and maybe we’ll fire up the grill. Personally I think it’s the perfect way to honor and remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country and our way of life.

Some people like to watch a military-themed movie to help remember some of those sacrifices that made this country what it is today. Of course, these are just Hollywood’s palatable versions of how things go in times of war. But, it’s what we have and sometimes it helps to try to understand what our servicemembers go through.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen a lot of military-themed movies. But, I’ve put together a list of my favorites. Maybe you can find one to stream this weekend while you’re enjoying a burger or dog and an ice-cold summer beverage.

  • Three Kings


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      This one stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube. They’re 3 soldiers on a mission… a mission of their own to steal some gold. Things go heavily awry, and they instead find themselves in a situation in dire need of their help. It was praised for its accurate representation of the Gulf War. It’s tragic, sometimes gruesome, sometimes funny. Definitely worth the watch.

  • Zero Dark Thirty


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      This one is a very surreal chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. This one feels close for anyone who lived through the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

  • Glory


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      This one is probably most appropriate as Memorial Day was born in an effort to remember the soldiers lost in the Civil War (Did you know that it was originally called “Decoration Day”?). This is a great movie through which Denzel Washington won his first Oscar. It’s a true telling of the story of the Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company and how they helped change history.

  • Forrest Gump


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    I know, this isn’t exactly a war movie. But, a significant portion of the movie features Forrest’s Army service and participation in the Vietnam war, quite realistically. And, if we’re being honest, Bubba Blue’s death was pretty tough, even if fictional.

  • Tropic Thunder


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     Also, not an actual war movie, like, at all. But, it’s about a film cast filming a war movie. So it almost counts. It stars Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Danny McBride with a ridiculously funny cameo by Tom Cruise. This one is for people who just want a good comedy. But, be warned, it’s wildly inappropriate…and hilarious.

  • Top Gun & Top Gun 2


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    Let’s be honest, if you haven’t seen these, you’re not quite American. It’s just a great couple of action movies. Tom Cruise at his most Tom Cruisiest. Must watch.

  • The Hurt Locker


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    Jeremy Renner at his bad-ass peak as Staff Sergeant William James who diffuses bombs in the heat of combat. Can you imagine the steel nerves of these people? This movie shows just how intense the job is and how it can completely change your psyche. Great movie!

  • American Sniper


    Speaking of “nerves of steel”, holy smokes Chris Kyle had ice in his veins. Bradley Cooper portrays this actual Navy S.E.A.L. sniper who’s amazingly accurate shooting played a pivotal role in the Iraq War. Then he has to navigate a ‘normal’ life back home.

  • Full Metal Jacket


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    It’s like two movies in one: following Marine recruits through a dehumanizing boot camp with extreme results, then most of those same recruits through the streets of Vietnam through a truly ugly war. A Stanley Kubrick masterpiece.

  • Saving Private Ryan


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    My favorite wartime movie so far. Led by an almost perfect performance by Tom Hanks, this movie is riddled with huge stars. It opens with a recreation of the D-Day attack on Normandy that is so realistic that, according to warhistoryonline.com, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs had to increase staffing on their telephone lines to counsel veterans who had seen the movie and were suffering from PTSD.

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