Memorial Day

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“Two generations. Two wars. One story.” This is definitely not your average war movie. It’s a quiet and totally unpretentious look at the realities of combat as told through the medium of stories. Young Kyle Vogel finds a treasure chest full of World War II memorabilia and asks his grandfather (James Cromwell) to tell him about it. “It’s Memorial Day. What am I supposed to remember?” Bud Vogel reluctantly opens up, telling him the stories behind various items in the chest. This experience for Kyle is in turn told as a story to a nurse when a grown-up Kyle, now serving in Iraq, is injured in the line of duty. Interestingly enough, Bud Vogel’s younger self is played by John Cromwell, who is in real life the son of James Cromwell. No wonder he looks so much like James! I greatly enjoyed the skillful weaving of multiple stories and timelines which subtly highlighted similarities between the two different wars. Gut-wrenching and yet uplifting, this film looks at the horrors of war through the softly tinted filter of memory and personal perception. It certainly does earn its R rating due to the unavoidable blood and graphic violence, but unlike most war movies, there is little off-color language. Deeply moving, sad but also hopeful, this film has no agenda, which makes it very unusual for Hollywood. Despite what I’m sure are some factual inaccuracies, the writers do manage to capture the spirit of military service and everything feels authentic. A beautifully crafted narrative that exemplifies a great quote from the movie: “Stories live forever, but only if you tell them.” May we always honor the brave men and women who have fought and died for the freedoms we often take for granted, as well as those who continue to put their lives on the line to protect us all. We owe them everything. – BETHANY

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Bud Vogel (James Cromwell)

Opening the chest with young Kyle Vogel.

Young Kyle Vogel. Kyle Vogel (Jonathan Bennett), all grown up and in a war of his own.

Lieutenant Bud Vogel (John Cromwell)  – See the family resemblance to his father below?

Bud Vogel dwelling on unpleasant memories.

Photos courtesy of Perspective Films and Image Entertainment


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