Ah, the 4th of July… bands, music, good food, fireworks and plenty of patriotism to go around. As a veteran and proud American, this is one of my favorite holidays. In this day and age, when we seem so divided over political discourse, it’s days like this that bring (some of us) together as a nation. As a writer, you look for inspiration for characters, stories, and adventures. I find hours of such inspiration in movies, especially those with a patriotic theme.
There have been a number of great movies you watch every year around July 4 that makes you proud to be an American. They’re not all war movies, though many are, but they all have that main theme of American pride, resiliency, resourcefulness and determination. A lot of these movies are focused on the American Revolution, but it’s these moments that we love about our history.
Before I go on, let me make one small disclaimer. I know we, as a nation, are not perfect. We’ve made a lot of mistakes in our 200+ year history… Slavery, Civil Rights, Segregation to name a few. No one is perfect, but it’s moments like these that make us, as a nation, look at ourselves and work on getting better by learning from our mistakes. Like the saying goes, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall!”
Back to the topic at hand, I want to start with some of my favorite movies based on the Revolutionary War. The Patriot, John Adams, Drums Along the Mohawk, and 1776 are some of the best movies based on and around the birth of our nation. One of my personal favorites is an A&E movie, The Crossing, starring Jeff Daniels as General George Washington. It tells the story of the crossing of the Delaware River and the attack at Trenton. This was not a big budget movie, but it really struck me on the terrible conditions these men endured and how we almost lost it all. It was this one battle that turned things around for our country and it is truly inspiring.
War has been a part of our nation, demonstrating the heroism and fortitude of the many men and women who fought for this country, on our land and across the sea. Glory, Gettysburg, To Hell and Back, Sergeant York, and The Longest Day are classics along with today’s movies like Unbroken, American Sniper, Men of Honor, Saving Private Ryan, and Lone Survivor.
One of the great actors, and an even greater American, was John Wayne. I think he starred in more patriotic movies than any other actor today. The Sands of Iwo Jima, The Fighting Seabees, In Harm’s Way, Back to Bataan, The Horse Soldiers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Green Berets, and The Alamo are just a few of the wonderful films he made, displaying his prowess as a great actor and a proud American.
There are also a number of 4th of July movies that don’t have a lot to do with the holiday, just like many of those who consider Die Hard a Christmas movie. Independence Day has one of the best inspirational speeches in movie history. It still makes my heart swell with pride whenever I listen to it. Miracle, based on the dramatic and unprecedented run by the USA Hockey team at the 1980 Olympics, will make you root for this team again and again, even though you already know the outcome.
Argo, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Rocky IV, Top Gun, The Right Stuff, Red Dawn, and Apollo 13 are movies that demonstrate that keen American spirit as well. It that patriotism, pride in ourselves, our country and the American spirit that makes these movies worth watching on the 4th of July. I know I might have missed a few, so please tell me your favorite patriotic movies in the comments below.
So, on this 4th of July, let’s get together with family and friends, raise your glass, grill some burgers and hot dogs, and watch some fireworks displays. Don’t forget to thank a Veteran for making this day possible. Happy Independence Day!
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.