On Memorial Day 1993, thirteen-year old Kyle asks his grandfather “What am I supposed to remember?” Like so many others, Bud “collected souvenirs” from his time in World War II, but refused to talk about his wartime experiences. Clearly, it was too painful. And, years later, in a parallel manner, Kyle is reluctant to talk about his time in Iraq. Both sad and glorious, Memorial Day is both a war movie and a psychological movie. Bud thanks Kyle for teaching him that “what matters are the stories behind the ‘souvenirs,’ but only if you tell them.” Memorial Day reminds us that veterans carry a huge burden and we need to remind them that “they do not carry it alone.” I give Memorial Day 3.5 Gavels and it receives a 6.0/10 IMDb rating.
Bud reluctantly agrees that Kyle can pick three items from his foot locker and he will convey the story behind each. From Operation Market Garden, to the Battle of the Bulge, to the final days of the Third Reich at Cologne, Bud recalls the “diesel, the cordite and the death.” Switching to 2003 in Iraq, Kyle recognizes similar scenarios in Anbar province, at a recruiting mission in Ramadi, and hunting for a High Value Target. There is a kinship between grandfather and grandson like no other, but will Kyle fall into the same trap?
Playing every role imaginable, James Cromwell (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) is a Hollywood legend. If young Bud looks like grandfather Bud, that because it is his son, John Cromwell. The mannerisms are exactly the same. Jonathan Bennett of Rossford, Ohio plays SSG Kyle while Jackson Bond is young Kyle. All four do extraordinary work.
If this movie came to my attention earlier, I would have posted my review on Memorial Day. Made on a budget of $4.2 million, it is as powerful as it is emotional. Where has it been since 2012? Are the flashbacks too confusing? Did it fail to fall in an appropriate niche? Yet, that helps to make it unique. Memorial Day nudges us that we must remember those who chose to sacrifice for “justice over tyranny.”
Finally, Bud tells Kyle that “if you put on the uniform, you don’t get to choose the war or what happens when you get there. You do your best and try to live with it.” After that warm Memorial Day talk on the porch between “two men,” Bud began to find peace. Kyle wants that same talk with his son when the time is right. If you are feeling patriotic, it’s the right time for Memorial Day.