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Jewish World Review
June 29, 2007
/ 13 Tamuz 5767
America's Independence Day might just as easily be called "Thanksgiving." We have so much to be thankful for as citizens of the United States. The brave soldiers, marines, sailors and flyers that have fought and died to keep America free are a blessing that each and every one of us needs to keep foremost in our minds on this holiday. The sacrifices made throughout our history by noble and brave patriots should never be taken for granted. Yes, God bless America, and also G-d bless the Americans who have paid the ultimate price to defend her.
You might go on a picnic or go to a baseball game, you might have a barbecue, or attend a firework display to celebrate America's birthday, but for me The Fourth of July is the perfect excuse for watching a bunch of 100% unapologetically patriotic classic movies. Everyone has their special favorites, of course, but if you need a few suggestions this Independence Day you might want to check out the following films that celebrate America and Americans. My list is by no means comprehensive, but it's a pretty good start. The films are:
Yankee Doodle Dandy
The Alamo (John Wayne's version)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
• Sergeant York
• Young Mr. Lincoln
• Abe Lincoln in Illinois
• She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
• The Searchers
• The Fighting 69th
• The Human Comedy
• Our Vines Have Tender Grapes
• I Remember Mama
• Meet Me In St. Louis
• George Washington Slept Here
• The Yearling
• It's a Wonderful Life
• Hail the Conquering Hero
• Buck Privates
• The Best Years of Our Lives
• Since You Went Away
• The Hollywood Canteen
• Command Decision
• To Hell and Back
• They Were Expendable
• The Longest Day
• The Sands of Iwo Jima
• The Fighting Sullivans
• The Story of G.I. Joe
• Strategic Air Command
• We Were Soldiers
You'll note that many of these pictures are just what you might expect to see on a 4th of July list of patriotic movies; the American heroes, flag waving, the war pictures, and stories about the American home front during the war. These are certainly patriotic, uplifting films that tug at the heart and make us feel proud to be an American. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was made in black and white and yet it is more red, white, and blue in it then any movie in color that I can think of. "Command Decision," for example, is as timely today as it was when it was released almost fifty years ago. "Since You Went Away" is a poignant story of the sacrifices that the families of our servicemen have made and continue to make.
But there are other heartwarming films on the list that showcase American values, growing up in America, and what it meant to be an American at various times in our history. There are also films on the list that feature the human dignity, bravery, and spirit that first generation Americans possessed in coming to this country.
Pictures like "I Remember Mama," "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "It's a Wonderful Life," and even "The Searchers" celebrate strength of character, love of family, and a life experience that is uniquely American. And since possessing a sense of humor is as every bit American as possessing a sense of purpose or a sense of fairness, I have included a few comedies in the group, as well.
America's story is, in the final analysis, a story of its people their beliefs, their desires, their dreams, and their faith and courage. I've tried to choose movies on this list which reflect those qualities. I hope you'll discover a couple that you've never seen before. And it never hurts to revisit a good picture that maybe you haven't seen for awhile. So make a big bowl of popcorn, pop in the tape or DVD and enjoy! And feel proud that you are one of the lucky people that can say, "I am an American!"
Happy Fourth of July!
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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