Memorial Day weekend is in full swing, coronavirus or not. Veterans’ groups will be still heading out with some politicians and civic-minded people to pay tribute to those veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave up all of their tomorrows for our today.  

On Memorial Day in my former town the local cable-access television station will be airing periodically a series of short two-three minute interviews with various vets. That was my last official act as the local Veterans Council commander. Veterans from the VFW, American Legion, and the council recorded the interviews. Mine was conducted about three hours before our move away trip.  

One of our traditional pastimes on Memorial Day is to binge-watch military-themed films all day, but since we’re sharing our in-laws home for a few days, we are going to limit it to just five films today. A few years ago we posted our favorite war films for Memorial Day and this year we’ll add a few more. Since it is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II this year, we picked five of our WWII favorites. 

Saving Private Ryan (1998) starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore:

The film is an epic Steven Spielberg star-studded drama of the U.S. Army’s mission to find and evacuate one paratrooper (Damon) of the 101st Airborne whose brothers were all killed in action. Hanks, Sizemore, and their squad (Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) from the 2nd Ranger Battalion get tasked with finding Pvt. Ryan. The movie is set on the backdrop of the Normandy landings on D-Day.

Loosely based on the story of the Niland brothers from New York, the film is considered one of the most powerful war films of all time. The riveting 27-minute opening sequence of the Rangers and the 29th Infantry Division soldiers landing on Omaha Beach became an instant classic film  sequence. Spielberg made the beach landing so realistic, that many actual veterans from Omaha Beach, were forced to leave the theaters as it brought back too many vivid memories. 

Spielberg spared no expense for the opening scene. He used over 1000 extras to storm the beaches of Normandy (filmed in Ireland) with water so cold, many of the actors had to wear wet suits beneath their uniforms. They also used more than 20 men with missing limbs who had thier prosthetic limbs blown off for the purposes of lending graphic realism to the film.