Top 10 Best Movies To Celebrate Veterans Day

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This Friday is Veterans Day, once a commemoration of the end of World War I and now a broad celebration of U.S. war veterans. While most audiences will focus their weekend viewing plans on Marvel Studio’s superhero blockbuster Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, many will also seek out movies about war and veterans for the holiday as well. So here is a list of the top 10 best movies to celebrate and honor Veterans Day.

This year I’m making a list that combines films centered on World War II and the battle to destroy Nazis and fascism abroad as well as confronting prejudice and repression on the home front, the Civil War and the battle against seditious attempts to overthrow democratic society and empower treasonous authoritarianism, the Vietnam War and how America was a projector of evil policies and inequality against other nations as well as abusing its own soldiers in the field and at home, and the modern so-called “war on terror” that produced another generation of veterans suffering PTSD from a brutal war of occupation and lies and dehumanizing propaganda for the benefit of oil companies and private mercenary corporations.

These are films that I feel highlight things we need to most remember this Veterans Day, and frankly every other day lately.

Sometimes war, a terrible horrible thing that should be a last resort, is also the only way to collectively defend against and resist wars of aggression waged by fascists who seek to enslave and brutalize human beings in the name of warped, bigoted, and state-terrorist ideology. Other times war was the only way to stop forces within our own society who wanted to destroy democracy and tear the country in half in the name of sick beliefs little different from the Nazis. And still other times war is a ghastly abuse of power sending children into other people’s homes to kill, oppress, and steal from them on behalf of industries who subordinate our government’s policies to corporate profits.

We cannot pretend to celebrate and honor our nation’s war veterans without being honest about what they fought for and what they fought against, the reasons — sometimes good, sometimes bad — they were sent to battle. These themes are especially resonant and important for our democracy today (and yes, it’s a democracy, as well as being a republic, for those who don’t understand how those terms work and that republics can and often are democracies, just as some democracies are direct and others are representative and others are also monarchies).

Because today America is at a crossroads regarding our democratic government and future, while war rages in Europe driven by our most hostile foreign enemy (Putin’s Russia) who attacks our allies as well as our elections, and who daily threatens World War III and the use of nuclear weapons.

Now, without further ado, here in no particular order are my picks for the top 10 greatest films to watch in honor of Veterans Day 2022...

  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  • Glory (1989)
  • Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
  • A Soldier’s Story (1984)
  • Mudbound (2017)
  • Born on the Fourth of July (19)
  • Platoon (1986)
  • Da 5 Bloods (2020)
  • The Hurt Locker (2008)
  • American Sniper (2014)

And there you have it, dear readers, my list of the 10 best movies for your Veterans Day viewing. I hope you’ll pick a few of them and give them a watch, as a reminder of what has been sacrificed, what has been lost, and what we must guard against in our future.

Here (in no particular order) are 10 additional viewing recommendations mentions for an expanded list of 20 film recommendations. Admittedly, They Shall Not Grow Old is actually footage of British troops during World War I, but it is among the few films demonstrating what veterans of that war endured and helping bring audiences closer to the hells and horrors of warfare than most other films can do — and hopefully driving home the costs if we allow authoritarianism and war aggressors to go too far before we act to stop them...

  • MVP (2022)
  • The Messenger (2009)
  • Heroes For Sale (1933)
  • The Invisible War (2012)
  • Breaking (2022)
  • Courage Under Fire (1996)
  • The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  • They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
  • Coming Home (1978)
  • The Thin Red Line (1998)

Lastly, let me note for the record I have several siblings who are veterans, including one who died while serving in the Air Force, and my father was a veteran (he passed away in 2013). Additionally, since it’s relevant, my mother drew up during World War II and survived bombings by Nazis and a Nazi attack on her school that killed many of her friends and teachers. So I especially hope you’ll watch some of these films and think about any of your own family and friends who are veterans, and about my family, and about everyone who faced and fought the evil of fascism.

Happy Veterans Day to all who love liberty and who stand up for it against tyranny at home and abroad.

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