Throwback Thursday: Remembering our Fallen Heroes

sands-of-iwo-jimaThe Mentor Public Library—all branches—will be closed Sunday and Monday for Memorial Day.

We hope you spend some time with your family and friends, but never forget the real reason it’s a holiday. It’s not so we can barbecue or work on our base tan. It’s so we can thank those who have served to keep us free.

While it may seem trite to suggest a movie or a book to coincide with Memorial Day, sometimes entertainment is the most effective way to remind ourselves of what others have sacrificed for us. So this week we’re dedicating Throwback Thursday to remembering our fallen heroes.

(As always, you can check out any and all of these movies and books from the Mentor Public Library. We’ve even linked to our collection so you can put them on hold wherever you are.)

1. Saving Private Ryan—If this film ended after its depiction of the Omaha Beach assault, it would still be worth mentioning. By 1998 (when Private Ryan premiered,) war movies had transcended the dichotomy of either being patriotic or critical of war. This film (and especially its first 30 minutes) told war as it was: sometimes brave, sometimes heroic, often violent and always tragic.

2. The Sands of Iwo JimaJohn Wayne is best known for his work in westerns, but he reserved his best work for war films. (Also see They Were Expendable, which you can stream for free on Hoopla.) Iwo Jima encapsulates more than its titular battle. It portrays a hard man—Marine Sergeant John Stryker—during harder times.

3. PlatoonApocalypse NowGood Morning, VietnamThe Vietnam War does not lend itself to optimistic films. Frankly, this list could be longer: Full Metal JacketCasualties of War… none of these films stir your patriotic spirit. But they are films that will move you.

4. Gettysburg—Perhaps because it’s based on a book, this film plays more like a novel than a war film. There are dozens of characters. Each have their own motivation for fighting. Most importantly, every person in this movie thinks he is fighting on the side of right; or, at least, that his side is as right as any. (Also, if you love Gettysburg, check out Gods and Generals—either the book or the movie.

5. Twelve O’Clock High—There’s something about the Air Force, right? No other movie juxtaposes the tragedy of war with the majesty of flying as memorably as Twelve O’Clock High, which tells the story of the United States Army’s Eighth Air Force who flew daylight bombing missions against Nazi Germany and occupied France.

6. The PatriotConsidering how important it was for our country—for example, we wouldn’t have a country without it—there are surprisingly few films about the Revolutionary War. The Patriot is a good place to start. You may also like Johnny Tremain and John Adams.

7. Hurt Locker, Three Kings, Turtles Can Fly—The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already inspired several films. While few have been box-office hits, many of them have been critical favorites and shaped how people view the wars.

8. All Quiet on the Western Front—For as many classic movies as there are about World War II, there are surprisingly few depicting WWI. All Quiet tells the story of Paul Baumer, an enlistee in the Imperial German Army. This 1930 film is realist, harrowing and, in many ways, ahead of its time. It predicts the nihilism of later war movies.

9. M*A*S*HMASH is an incredible film in that it makes war funny without making it any less tragic. It tells the story of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. If you only know the TV show, you owe it to yourself to check out the movie.

10. RestrepoThe Tillman Story, Taxi to the Dark Side, Standard Operating ProcedureIn addition to movies, there have been a lot of thought-provoking documentaries produced about wars.

Also, if you want to watch something right now, IndieFlix is streaming several war films, shorts and documentaries from its site right now, and you can watch as many of them as you want with a Mentor Public Library card. (Here’s how to stream videos from IndieFlix, in case you forgot.)

Once more, we at Mentor Public Library want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have served and sacrificed for this country!

Come back each week for a new Throwback Thursday profile.

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