War is a difficult subject.. We all know what the word means, and know Veterans Day is national holiday. I wonder, though, who remembers the real history behind it. A quick refresher for us all:
In the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary peace was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War. And what started as Armistice Day on November 11th of the following year, became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In 1954, in the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
Something else I wondered...For those of us who never had to fight in a war, is it possible for us to truly appreciate the sacrifice, loss, honor, anger, and range of trauma that soldiers would endure as a result of this experience?
I had several relatives enlisted in different wars, but they didn’t talk about it much. My grandfather was a paratrooper, shot down from the sky in WWII, TWICE, but survived. And I was named after two, my uncle “Jon” who would later serve in Vietnam, and JFK, who inherited the Vietnam debacle when he took office. What were JFK's first words to the nation?
“ Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
It was only in the movies that I could really get some fraction of an understanding, even if it meant connecting to fictional characters. Sure, narratives are dramatized, but there have been some amazing documentaries made in the last few years, with real heroes sharing their stories.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to present one of them (The Welcome) at the Naples International Film Festival. This is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. In the intimate Q&A sessions that followed, I couldn’t help but notice the river of tears shed by the audience. They were truly moved. And this was confirmed when the festival later presented the film with the Audience Award at the Closing Ceremonies.
Below, you will find a small tribute showcase for Veterans Day, 10 documentary selections out of the many of movies on the subject. Have a look at the trailers here and some of their related causes – and of course, experience the movies for yourselves.
Fog of War
Hell and Back Again
No End in Sight
Standard Operating Procedure
Taxi to the Darkside
Why We Fight
Over the years, the War genre has been well represented by the studio system, embraced by critics and audiences alike. For starters, All Quiet On The Western Front (1930), From Here To Eternity (1953) and Bridge Over The River Kwai (1957) all succeeded at the box office, won Oscars for Best Picture, and were selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry. You probably know of these studios movies made on the subject over the years, but we thought it would be fun to share our top 20 Studio Picks, from this subgenre:
Below, we have pulled together a number of qualified related causes. These orgs do amazing things in this space and we hope you take this opportunity to have look. Whether you just want to learn more, get involved or make a donation, your support is appreciated.