As we honor those who have fallen in service to our country, I find myself drawn again to stories about that selfless sacrifice. From movies to books, here are my recommendations of accounts of war I think are compelling and memorable for this Memorial Day.
I’ve been a military movie buff since I was a kid. Initially drawn to films meant more for entertainment than an honest account of war. Movies like The Longest Day, The Dirty Dozen, The Alamo, The Big Red One and The Great Escape were favorites. As I matured, so did my tastes, developing towards more truthful narrative. Galipoli, Paths of Glory, Platoon, Glory, and Saving Private Ryan are personal standouts.
In later years, I joined the Army, and subsequently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Ironically, my taste for war movies has sharply waned. After experiencing war first hand, I now find Hollywood typically falls short of the truth. I read more about war rather than watch it on screen now. Books allow more freedom to draw my own conclusions and at my own pace. Here are a few non-fiction books I recommend as a way to remember and honor the sacrifice others have made.
Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose is full of hundreds of amazing facts and first-hand accounts of Allied and Axis troops from the day after D-Day through the end of WWII in Europe. Another book by Ambrose, Band of Brothers, follows a group of Paratroopers during WWII and chronicles their life-long bonds forged in war. From the same author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys by James Bradley tells the incredible and horrifying ordeal of US POWs on the Pacific Island of Chichi-jima. The Long Gray Line by Rick Atkinson is an intimate and honest portrayal into the complex lives of several West Point cadets from the class of 1966; their journey from school, through Vietnam and into their lives after the war. The Rough Riders by Teddy Roosevelt is a unique historical read, by a giant of American history. The personal accounts of Teddy Roosevelt’s experience in the Spanish American War is both insightful and engaging.
Whatever your plans for Memorial Day, please keep in mind those who made the ultimate sacrifice, even if that comes in the form of a book or movie.
Scott is Senior Designer at Half Price Books Corporate. He still serves in the Army Reserves and will be participating in Carry The Load this Memorial Day.