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Film / Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is a 2012 film about the war experiences of a modern soldier (Kyle Vogel in Iraq) and his grandfather (Bud Vogel, a WWII veteran). Bud's experiences are told through a series of flashbacks while he explains his experiences to a young Kyle. Meanwhile, an adult Kyle develops his own war experiences similar to his grandfather's.

This film provides examples of:

  • Baa-Bomb: In the opening scene, Kyle's unit encounters a dead sheep that they suspect might be hiding an IED. It turns out that it is and it is set off.
  • Battle Trophy: The central story telling mechanism. Part of the story is Bud telling Kyle the history behind some of the pieces of his collection, and part of the story is Kyle building his own collection.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Bud assumed that the conversation he had about his time in the war would have been this to the young Kyle, but it is actually averted because it had a strong impact on Kyle and heavily shaped how he behaved while in combat himself.
  • Child Soldiers: One shows up near the end of Bud's war experience in 1945 as a member of the Volkssturm. He succeeds in killing Bud's platoon sergeant, who was also his closest friend.
  • Dad the Veteran: Old Bud has elements of this trope.
  • Death from Above
  • Fatal Family Photo: A wounded Waffen-SS officer shows Bud a picture of his son to try to convince Bud to take him prisoner and give him medical treatment. Bud leaves him to die and we see him collapse as Bud's unit pulls away.
  • Flashback B-Plot: Kyle's war experiences are shown in flash forwards.
  • Genius Bonus: Throughout the movie, references are made to the Eastern Meadowlark. Bud is a recreational birder and mentions the Eastern Meadowlark as having the most beautiful song of any bird. While Kyle doesn't show the same passion for birding, he makes mention of his grandfather's love of the Eastern Meadowlark. At the end of the movie, the song of the Eastern Meadowlark is played in the background, but it is not pointed out in any way so if you did not already know the song, you would not be able to recognize it.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Mahmoud Abu-Hassan, who is mentioned in several briefings and news reports, but is never seen or encountered.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted. Every character who is shot in the movie takes at least a few second to die. Many end up recovering from their wounds.
  • Left for Dead: Bud is placed in a situation where his unit is behind schedule and they have a wounded German officer to deal with, Bud decides to leave the German officer to die. Later Kyle is put in a similar situation, but chooses to avert this trope by calling in a medivac for the wounded Iraqi.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Both Bud and Kyle receive shrapnel wounds (Bud in the butt and Kyle in the thigh) that require them to be carried off the field but then they recover after short medical treatment.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The things Bud saw and did in WWII clearly weigh on him 50 years later, though he's fairly well-adjusted overall. It's implied that his talk with Kyle, and the effect it had on the boy, is what prevents Kyle from ending up the same way after coming home from Iraq.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: In both WWII and Iraq, there was plenty of things to blow up including grenades, IEDs, airstrikes, and artillery strikes.
  • The '90s: Portion of the film is set in Memorial Day 1993, where a 13 year-old Kyle plays hide-and-seek in his grandfather's house with his friends.
  • Turn of the Millennium: The Present Day portions of the film.
  • War Is Hell: The main theme of the film.