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From the early days of American history to the more modern tales of camaraderie in service, we highlight four movies that show a military family coming together for their country.

Brotherhood, Heroism. Duty. These are only a few of the words that come to mind when we think of the military family. Stationed across the globe together, or away from their loved ones, military families are selfless and serve together in support of each other.

Their stories are powerful and remind of what sacrifices were made for the freedom we live with every day. In celebration of Military Family Month, here is a list of must-see movies to watch in honor of these men and women. 

Saving Private Ryan

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Available to rent on YouTube from $3.99

Five Oscars. Five! Does it really get any better than this? Although the story in the film is original, there has probably never been a more rigorous depiction of the Normandy D-Day invasion on film. And did you know that a young Vin Diesel is also in the star-studded cast?

Upon news that two out of three Ryan brothers have been killed in action, US Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall, sends Captain Miller (played by Tom Hanks) and seven other soldiers to fight through the beaches and fields of Normandy to retrieve Private Ryan (Matt Damon) in an effort to bring the last brother home safely for his family.

Screenwriter Robert Rodat was initially inspired to write Saving Private Ryan after visiting a monument dedicated to four sons of Agnes Allison in Port Carbon, PA. Each of the four brothers had been killed in the American Civil War.

Hacksaw Ridge

Directed by Mel Gibson

Watch now on Hulu Premium, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max

This is a tale of selfless conviction and bravery, with a surprising pacifist twist. Hacksaw Ridge is a story about how one soldier can change the tide of battle, and touch the lives of generations.

The film follows the story of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), an incredible WWII hero who saved 75 men at the Battle of Okinawa without ever firing his weapon. The thing that was unique in Doss’ story is that he was a conscientious objector. As a devout man of faith, he refused to kill, instead electing to serve on the frontlines as a medic, selflessly succeeding to save so many lives in the hell on earth dubbed “Hacksaw Ridge.”

The Patriot

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Watch now on Hulu, available to rent on YouTube from $3.99

The Patriot follows the tale of Captain Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a French and Indian War veteran, who had heroically put a stop to French atrocities at the fictional Fort Wilderness. 

Captain Martin is also the widowed father of seven children, and knowing the weight and the danger of the revolution taking place, he tries to avoid joining in on the fight to preserve his family. However, when his eldest son joins the continental militia (Heath Ledger), and his second born son is killed, Captain Martin has no choice but to enter the fray on behalf of his family.

Don’t expect the film to necessarily be historically accurate. Rather, the character of Benjamin Martin is written as a composite of revolutionary figures including Thomas Sumter (the namesake of historical Fort Sumter), Nathanael Greene, Daniel Morgan, and Andrew Pickens.

Take the movie for what it is: a classic tribute to the spirit of the American Revolution, and a reminder that nobody messes with family and gets away with it.

Dunkirk

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Available to rent on YouTube from $3.99

In May 1940, Allied forces were losing the Battle of France. The Nazis had the Allied troops on the ropes, and it was time for the Allies to withdraw. Pressed with their backs to the beaches of Dunkirk, directly across from the English Channel, there was only one option: escape by any means necessary.

Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were strategically evacuated. From battleships to fishing boats, any and every serviceable vessel was commandeered to aid the rescue in a coordinated effort. When the heroic effort was finished, over 330,000 French, British, Belgian, and British soldiers had been rescued.

Master storyteller and director, Christopher Nolan captures the chaos and turmoil in every second of the film, weaving together the non-chronological story from three different perspectives. 

Unique to this movie list, this Dunkirk doesn’t necessarily focus on a central character. While the cast includes the likes of Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, and Fionn Whitehead, the film focuses on the events at Dunkirk from a bird’s eye view. And it serves as a reminder of how big the military family really is.

We took to the skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator to explore Dunkirk from the air. Check out 10 Historic Battlefields You Can Visit in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Armed Forces Entertainment

November is Military Family Month! Share your military family moments with us on Twitter at @armedforcesent, and check out our guide to going outside!

At AFE, we thank you and your family for your continued service and support. It is you who makes everything we do possible. Let’s make this a November to remember.

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