Happy Memorial Day

In honor of the millions of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have given the “last full measure of devotion” over the last 240 years. So we’ve pulled together a list of movies covering every one of America’s wars, police conflicts and quagmires. You may want to split them across Memorial Day, July 4th and Veterans Day to see them all.

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

The Contenders – American Colonies versus Mother England

Decisive battle – Yorktown, decisive victory by a combined force of American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by British lord and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. It was the last big battle, and Cornwallis’ surrender essentially ended the war.

Movies to see – THE PATRIOT, JOHN ADAMS (the HBO mini-series), JOHNNY TREMAIN, 1776

 

Barbary Wars (1801-1815)

The Contenders – America and the Kingdom of Sicily take on Mediterranean pirates working for the Barbary States (Tripoli, Tunis and Algiers) as Jefferson stands up to North African bullies.

Biggest battle – Battle of Tripoli: Commander Stephen Decatur led a raid to scuttle the USS Philadelphia and keep her out of enemy hands after the powerful warship ran aground in Tripoli harbor.

Movies to see – OLD IRONSIDES (1926 silent film about sailors on the USS Constitution as she battles pirates in the Med)

 

War of 1812 (1812)

The Contenders – The newly minted United States in a rematch with the Brits and….Canadians!

Biggest moment – Redcoats ransack Washington D.C. and burn down the White House

Movies to see – THE WAR OF 1812 (2011), FIRST INVASION: THE WAR OF 1812 (2004) (History Channel doco-movies), MUTINY (1952)

 

Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

The Contenders – Battle for the Block: USA vs. Mexico. America’s southern border is the battleground as the Republic of Texas struggles for independence from Mexican authority.

Decisive moment – When US Gen. Winfield Scott captures the capital of Mexico City.

Movies to see – THE ALAMO  (1960 John Wayne version), TEXAS RISING (2015 History Channel mini-series)

 

Civil War (1861-1865)

The Contenders – USA vs CSA; the Confederacy wants go on a break, but Lincoln says “united we stand, divided we fall”!

Biggest battle – Gettysburg; Turning point of the war as the South is routed; combined 50,000 men fall in a single day, making it the most costly in US history.

Movies to see – GETTYSBURG, GLORY, LINCOLN

 

Spanish-American War (1898)

The Contenders – The United States led by General John “Blackjack” Pershing goes head-to-head with Spain over Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

Memorable moment – San Juan Hill; Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charges up a hill and catapult him into the presidency.

Movies to see – THE ROUGH RIDERS (1927 film), A MESSAGE TO GARCIA (1936), THE ROUGH RIDERS (1997 TV mini-series)

 

The Philippines War (1899-1902)

The Contenders – The US wraps up the last gasp of the Spanish-American War in the Philippines against Filipino rebels.

Movies to see – AMIGO, THE REAL GLORY   (These two were really obscure…)

 

World War I (1914-1918)

The Contenders – Allies (France, UK, USA) vs. Austro-Hungarian Empire (Germany, Austria, Hungary)

Biggest battle – With an estimated total of 714,231 casualties, the Battle of Verdun lasted for 303 days and became the longest and one of the most costly battles in human history.

Movies to see – SERGEANT YORK, WINGS, A FAREWELL TO ARMS

 

World War II (1939-1945)

The Contenders – Everyone… Allies (US, UK, France, China, Russia) vs. Axis (Nazi Germany, Japan, Italy)

Decisive battle – Battle of the Bulge; while D-Day packed a bigger punch and Midway dealt a more decisive blow, nothing exemplifies American military bravery, bravado and balls better than the Bulge. 840,000 US troops, the largest army America used in the war, repulsed the last gasp German offensive.

Movies to see – Hard to choose….SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, MIDWAY, SANDS OF IWO JIMA, PATTON, THE GREAT ESCAPE  , THE DIRTY DOZEN, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS

 

The Cold War (1945-1991)

The Contenders – America’s longest war (44 years, 1947-1991) was a globe-spanning strategic, military and political face-off between the democratic West and the Communist-controlled East, each side led by one of the world’s two superpowers – the US and the Soviet Union. While a “cold” war, there were flare-ups, incidents and police actions, so most of the “hot” wars fought – Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Central America and Cuba – were technically Cold War wars.

Movies to see – CRIMSON TIDE, RED DAWN (1984), HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (pretty much anything based on a Tom Clancy book from the 80’s), TOP GUN, STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND (1955)

 

Korean War (1950-1953)

The Contenders – Technically, the UN but really America, democratic Koreans and the Commonwealth square off in a “conflict” against Korean Communists and the newly minted People’s Republic of China.

Decisive battle – Inchon; General Douglas MacArthur lands at Inchon to flank Korean-Chinese forces who have the US and Southern forces on the ropes.

Movies to see – INCHON  (successful landing, ironically the film was a huge disaster), M*A*S*H (the 1970 film  and TV series), THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI, PORK CHOP HILL

 

Cuban Revolution (1960-1963)

The Contenders – It ends with the US and the USSR engaging in the ultimate nuclear stare down over Soviet missiles in Cuba and began with a failed CIA-led invasion to retake Cuba from Castro’s Communistas.

Biggest battle – Bay of Pigs

Movies to see – THIRTEEN DAYS, MISSILES OF OCTOBER

 

Vietnam War (1962-1975)

The Contenders – As it appears dominoes are falling in Asia, the US tries again to restrain Communism, this time in Vietnam. America’s longest and most divisive war since the Civil War, Vietnam left a deep scar on the American psyche. “Quagmire” enters the popular vernacular and for the first time, Americans watched the war unfold in their living rooms via TV.

Biggest battles – The Tet Offensive

Movies to see – PLATOON, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, FIRST BLOOD, APOCALYPSE NOW , THE DEER HUNTER, FULL METAL JACKET, GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM

 

Grenada/Panama/Central America (1983/1989-1990/the 80’s)

The Contenders – America spends lots of cash in the 80’s battling popular movements in Central America. The invasion of Grenada was more PR stunt, but Panama was invaded to topple ruthless dictator, drug boss and former BFF of the CIA, Manuel Noriega.

Big battle – Panama City: America watched as US Marines surrounded Noriega in the Papal Nuencio, they proceeded to spend the next three days ear-raping Noriega with heavy metal before he surrendered himself.

Movies to see – HEARTBREAK RIDGE , CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, TRAFFIC, COCAINE COWBOYS

 

Gulf War (1990-1991)

The Contenders – The US leads a vast coalition of nations to push the invading army of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein out of little, rich Kuwait.

Decisive battle – One hundred hours after the ground campaign started, on 28 February, President Bush declared Kuwait had been liberated. Coalition forces had pushed Iraq’s best troops to within 150 miles of Baghdad. Some of the fiercest fighting came against the Iraqi Republican Guard on 24-25 February.

Movies to see – COURAGE UNDER FIRE , THREE KINGS

 

Somalia (1998)

The Contenders – American dignity takes a hit as the chaos of Somalia engulfs the US Marines stationed there for humanitarian aid. While not really a war, it did give us one of the best war movies ever…

Movies to see – BLACK HAWK DOWN

 

The War on Terrorism (2001 – )

The Contenders – A bloodied America sets her sights on payback for the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. Never Again as the current world of intense airport security, near-complete electronic surveillance by the US and curtailing of civil liberties in the name of “national security” and “anti-terrorism” are all a result of the War on Terror.

Movies to see – UNITED 93 , ROAD TO GUANTANAMO  , and the Afghanistan and Iraq movies.

 

War in Afghanistan (2001 – )

The Contenders – America vs. the Taliban & Al Qaeda. The US invasion of Afghanistan was the US’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Taliban were ardent supporters of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda and continued to harbor them. After 11 years of ongoing combat, the US has followed in the footsteps of

Biggest battle –

Movies to see – LONE SURVIVOR, ZERO DARK THIRTY, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR

 

Iraq War (2003-2011)

The Contenders – America tries to nation build in Iraq – first deposes Saddam and defeats the Iraqi army, then spends years fighting insurgents and anti-government factions.

Biggest battle – Battle for Fallujah

Movies to see – AMERICAN SNIPER, HURT LOCKER, GREEN ZONE