Watching Memorial Day movies is an excellent way of celebrating Memorial Day and honoring all the brave soldiers. We all love to gather around the house on this day and switch on a movie about brave soldiers. These movies show us the harsh reality of these brave men and women.

Memorial Day was created to commemorate and remember the deceased members of the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives to safeguard the individuals who reside in the United States of America.

So on this occasion of memorial day, we will present our top 17 Memorial Day movies. We have chosen all the movies depicting the horrors of war and the life of a soldier or band of soldiers.

Memorial Day Movies

We have picked all sorts of movies for this list. Mainly, we will focus on realistic war movies that portray the brave men and women of the army. However, most of these movies will feature many graphic elements, so beware.

Let’s get right into it.

17. M*A*S*H (1970)

Source: Movieclips Classic Trailers

We are kicking off our list of memorial day movies with M*A*S*H, a comedy-drama movie. This movie is set amid the horrors of the Korean War. The staff of a military hospital uses humor and crazy antics to retain their sanity.

This movie should not be confused with the TV series called M*A*S*H. That show is actually a spin-off of this movie. We have talked about that show on our list of best-written Tv Series.

M*A*S*H is one of the finest comedic war movies ever made. War movies and comedy don’t usually mix well. However, M*A*S*H manages to combine these genres perfectly. It is funny yet realistic at the same time. All the jokes are well-written, and the acting is just phenomenal.

16. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

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Born on the Fourth of July is a biographical movie based on the life of Ron Kovic. This film follows the life of Ron Kovic after being paralyzed during the Vietnam War.

Ron Kovic is a patriotic man who once served his country. However, facing the horrors of war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights activist. He actually feels betrayed by the country he served.

Born on the Fourth of July is directed by Oliver Stone, who is no stranger to war movies. He does not disappoint with this heart-touching biography. Tom Cruise stars in the lead role and does a phenomenal job portraying the character of Ron Kovic.

15. The Great Escape (1963)

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The Great Escape is the next entry on our list of Memorial Day movies. This film revolves around a true story of a group of prisoners who managed to break out of a fool-proof German prison.

During WWII, a large number of imprisoned Allied troops who had a history of escaping from prison were kept in an escape-proof prison camp. However, The prisoners devise one of the most daring escape attempts of WWII.

The Great Escape’s first half is full of comedic elements and doesn’t take itself too seriously. However, the movie’s second half provides a very high-thrill action and adventure storyline. This movie shows how unity among men can lead to great success.

14. Rescue Dawn (2006)

Source: Movieclips Classic Trailers

Rescue Dawn is another biographical movie. This film takes place during the Vietnam War. It follows a US fighter pilot’s incredible fight for survival after being shot down on a mission over Laos.

After a plane crash, the Vietnamese peasants take in US Navy pilot Dieter Dengler. He discovers five other mentally ill inmates as well as guards. Dieter soon comes up with a plan to escape this living hell. However, there’s a mountain of problems on his way.

This movie hits all the right notes. It is emotional, disturbing, and inspiring. In addition, the film has good production value and a star-studded cast. Christian Bale delivers a compelling performance, as always. Overall, it is an excellent memorial day movie.

13. Greyhound (2020)

Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Greyhound is a historical war movie. During World War II, US Navy Cmdr. Ernest Krause is tasked with leading an Allied convoy across the Atlantic. German U-boats, on the other hand, are pursuing his convoy.

Even though this is Krause’s first combat deployment, he finds himself in the middle of the world’s longest, largest, and most complex naval battle.

Greyhound came out of nowhere and achieved unexpected success. Overall, it is an excellent naval war movie. Everything is presented in a very realistic and grounded manner. It deserved a theatrical release; however, it was released as an Apple TV+ exclusive due to certain restrictions.

12. Top Gun (1986)

Source: Movieclips Classic Trailers

Next up on our list of Memorial Day moves is Top Gun. In this film, Top pilot Maverick is granted a second chance at redemption after losing a friend. He tries his hardest to be the best he can be while simultaneously falling in love with his civilian instructor Charlie.

Top Gun is a pure 80s action movie. If you don’t want to watch something too severe or something too comedic, then Top Gun is the right choice for you. This is the movie that made Tom Cruise famous and iconic.

All in all, Top Gun is full of action scenes, a great soundtrack, and some cheesy romance. All these elements blend together to provide one of the most entertaining 2-hour movies.

11. Windtalkers (2002)

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Windtalkers is an action drama movie. The story of this movie revolves around Navajos, who American soldiers recruited during World War II to help them communicate in a code language. Joe Enders, a US Marine, is tasked with defending Navajo marine Ben Yahzee.

The film stars Nicholas Cage in the leading role and is directed by John Woo. It is inspired by the real-life Navajo code talkers during World War II.

As per expectations, the film is heavy on action sequences. All of these action sequences are incredibly well-made. It doesn’t focus on the Navajo code as much as it focuses on the relationship between the Navajo code talkers and the soldiers. Windtalkers is a unique movie and deserves some spotlight.

10. The Hurt Locker (2008)

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The Hurt Locker is a drama thriller movie. This film is set during the Iraq War. Sergeant William James is in charge of training a bomb disposal unit. Conflicts with his subordinates arise due to his ideas and careless approach to the job.

The Hurt Locker may not be based on a specific true story. However, it is inspired by the real-life account of many soldiers who spent time in Iraq during these drastic times. It shows a bleak and realistic side of all the brave men who were in this war.

This film is awe-inspiring in terms of visuals and other technical aspects. Moreover, the acting performances are brilliant. The director has done an incredible job by establishing all these characters. Plus, the ending of this movie will manage to engrave itself on your heart.

9. Platoon (1986)

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Next up on our list of Memorial Day movies is Platoon. In this movie, Chris Taylor, a rookie recruit in Vietnam, becomes embroiled in a power struggle between two sergeants, one good and the other wicked.

Chris Taylor must pick his side carefully. However, his personality starts changing as he gets influenced by these two sergeants. This movie is a realistic exploration of the cruelty of war and a man’s dual nature in times of war and terror.

Platoon is a very gritty film to watch. It is violent, gory, and brutal. You might even get a little uneasy at times, but that’s the purpose of this movie. There are no happy endings in war, and that’s the core message of Platoon.

8. The Longest Day (1962)

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The Longest Day is a historical war movie. This film revolves around the events during D-Day from both the Allied and German points of view. The United States Army and Allied Forces plot a massive assault landing in Normandy, France, in 1944.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower approves this assault, and the Allies land in Normandy despite the poor weather. General Norma Cota and his forces arrive on Omaha Beach. After much difficulty and many casualties, they get off the beach and travel deep into French territory.

Due to arrogance, incompetence, and a sleeping Adolf Hitler, the German military delayed its response to the Allied landing, resulting in catastrophic consequences.

7. Lone Survivor (2013)

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Lone Survivor is a biographical movie about Marcus Luttrell. He was awarded the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart for his efforts against Taliban insurgents in June 2005 during Operation Red Wings, where he was the sole survivor.

The film’s story begins in June 2005. Marcus Luttrell and his crew head out on a mission to apprehend or kill famed Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Marcus and his squad are left to fight for their lives in one of modern warfare’s most courageous endeavors.

Lone Survivor is a heart-breaking movie. Even though it is presented as an action movie, it is realistic and extremely grounded. It manages to be different from the rest of the action movies. Overall, this is one of the best Memorial Day movies.

6. Crimson Tide (1995)

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Crimson Tide is a thriller war movie. In this movie, a nuclear submarine captain wants to launch an attack, but his subordinate wants to wait for confirmation. Their quarrel turns into a mutiny, with both of them striving for control of the ship.

Crimson Tide is full of heart-pumping thrilling scenes. The film features Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington in opposing roles, and they definitely nail their roles. This movie would’ve been incomplete without them.

Overall, Crimson Tide features a fascinating storyline. Moreover, the setting of the movie makes it really engaging. This film often flies under the radar of movie fans and is very underappreciated.

5. American Sniper (2014)

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Another biographical movie makes its way into our list of memorial day movies. American Sniper is a biographical drama movie. The story of this film revolves around Navy S.E.A.L. sniper Chris Kyle who has saved many lives throughout his career.

Kyle had become a legend thanks to his expert marksmanship. However, Kyle has a hard time blending in with his family and living a normal life after being in so many wars. When he returns home from Iraq, he feels incomplete, and the war still haunts him.

American Sniper shows the harsh reality behind the life of a soldier. Many aspects of a soldier’s life are usually ignored and forgotten. Overall, this fantastic film gives the audience a lot to reflect on and be grateful for.

4. Apocalypse Now (1979)

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Apocalypse Now is a drama, mystery, and war movie. In this movie, Captain Willard is dispatched to Cambodia on a difficult operation to eliminate a rebellious colonel who has gained the trust of a Cambodian tribe.

Apocalypse Now is the go-to and realistic war movie. It is filthy and disturbing. This movie portrays war like no other. In addition, Marlon Brando’s performance as the insane and controlling Colonel Kurtz is just remarkable.

This film is beautifully directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It has been shot in a very unique way. Every frame of this film tells a different story. However, it is not an easy watch and is far from conventional filmmaking. Overall, it is definitely one of the best Memorial Day movies.

3. Black Hawk Down (2001)

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Next up on our list of Memorial Day movies is Black Hawk Down. This film’s story revolves around Captain Mike Steele, who leads a team of roughly 100 US Army Rangers to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, in order to apprehend a Somali warlord’s top two lieutenants.

This film portrays all the real-life incidents in Somalia during the early 90s. The entire raid was actually quite disastrous. However, the brave men were able to get things back on track and survive this hell.

Black Hawk Down is directed by Ridley Scott. It is full of a star-studded cast, including Eric Bana, Tom Hardy, Josh Hartnett, and Ewan McGregor. Overall, the storyline is solid and interesting, and the film is worth your time.

2. Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

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Flags of Our Father is the next entry on our list of Memorial Day movies. This film takes place during World War II and is based on real-life events. It revolves around the six men who carried the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, a pivotal moment in World War II.

However, the main focus of this movie isn’t how these brave, heroic men managed to raise the American flag in such a drastic battle. The movie’s primary focus is how the three surviving men of that incident find out that the government’s press release contains numerous distortions.

Flags of Our Father is a more grim and captivating depiction of the war and its aftermath. This film doesn’t glorify war, not even the ongoing action. All the imagery is almost black and white, which is how you’d actually feel if you were on a site of conflict.

1. Glory (1989)

Source:  Movieclips Classic Trailers

The final entry on our list of Memorial Day movies is Glory. In this movie, Robert Gould Shaw leads the first all-black voluntary company in the American Civil War, overcoming racism from both the Union Army and the Confederates.

Glory is also based on a real-life figure named Robert Shaw and how he led the 54th Massachusetts, the first black regiment organized. In addition, it is a very important movie. It is not just a war movie but a historically accurate masterpiece.

This film is full of beautiful visuals, powerful messaging, and brilliant acting. You will definitely feel uplifted while watching this movie. It is one of the perfect Memorial Day movies, especially if you want to learn about the lesser-known figures of the American Civil War.


So this was a list of our favorite top 17 Memorial Day movies. Memorial Day is an essential holiday. It teaches us that we should be thankful for all the brave men and women who protected us while we slept peacefully.

So watch these movies to understand how these soldiers navigate through battlefields and what effects it has on them. Happy Memorial Day.

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