Today marks the second anniversary of the murder of Navy Seal Chris Kyle. I am still amazed at all the attacks against him and the movie American Sniper. In this day of 24-hour news cycles, stories like this usually last a day or two and are then replaced with the next celebrity "hate-fest".
But on this emotional anniversary, perhaps his detractors want to sling a little more mud on his hero status. But that has just become more difficult because American Sniper surpassed Saving Private Ryan as the number one domestic grossing war movie of all-time. They need to ask themselves why.
You see, those of us in Texas know that Chris Kyle was not perfect. But he stands for the sacrifice that our military have made in the last decade, and his life represents the heavy price they've all paid. This is not a movie making a political statement about the war -- as much as "they" would like it to be -- it is a movie about the cost our military families have paid on our behalf.
Governor Greg Abbott has declared today "Chris Kyle Day" in this soldier's beloved state of Texas. The Governor spoke for millions of Texans, when he said, "[In the Lone State], we honor our military heroes. In honor of a Texas son, a Navy SEAL and an American hero — a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield — I am declaring February 2nd Chris Kyle Day in Texas,” said Abbott. “We will commemorate his passing, but more importantly, remembering his answering of the call of duty.” And this day will honor all who have answered the call.
That's right, we think Chris Kyle and our military are heroes. Not because we all agree with the Iraq War, or the politics of George W. Bush, or because we hate Muslims. We think Chris Kyle is a hero because of his incredible courage in standing up to Evil ... because he did his job the best he could, knowing that the lives of soldiers depended on him. What an incredible burden! To save a life, he had to take a life. He witnessed death all around him, and his soul suffered for it. Yet, he returned, time and again, to a job that haunted him, because others depended on him. It wasn't only American soldiers that depended on him; Iraqi citizens benefitted from his "job", as well.
And guess what? It's not only Texans and millions of American movie-goers that think Kyle was a hero. According to The Global Post, the movie opened in Baghdad, the capitol of Iraq, to strong crowds and exuberant fans of the movie. One attendee, named Mohammed, lived through the events that are depicted in the movie. He admitted it was hard to watch innocent citizens being killed as the Americans fought the terrorists, but overall, he liked the movie. "I love watching war movies because it gives me the strength to face ISIS," he said. When asked if he thought the movie was fascist or anti-Arab, he replied, "No, why? The sniper was killing terrorists; the only thing that bothered me was when he said he didn't know anything about the Quran."
But in an effort to be intellectually honest, the film was pulled from theaters after one week, because the movie features the killing of Muslims, and it was seen as controversial. But the interesting thing to me was the fact that Kyle himself did not seem to be condemned as he is here, in his own country. Writer Frank Rich continued the "racist" mantra of those who misunderstand the label of "savages" that Kyle applied to the Iraqi terrorists. Why is it to so hard for them to see that Chris clearly distinguished between the good citizens of Iraq and the terrorist monsters when he used that term?
They try so hard to make the movie into a political statement about the war, when it is clearly a character study of a man sent to war. They are so desperate to vilify a man who represents the kind of Americans they detest, that they will even go so far as to compare him to the Sandy Hook killer, Adam Lanza!
I admit that I am not qualified to defend a man like Chris Kyle. I have not stood in his shoes, nor faced the demons of war. Only those who have experienced the horrors of this endless war are able to give voice to the message this movie sends. An anonymous Marine Corps veteran wrote an eloquent response to all the critics: "The film wasn’t about any of that [politics] because for US, the war wasn’t about any of that. Do you think any of us gave a f**k about Saddam Hussein, WMD, Bush, Cheney, or any of that s**t that was being ejaculated by the news? The film wasn’t about grey areas, because to us it didn’t matter. All that mattered to us was the guy to our left, and the guy to our right…and especially the guy that still had a can of Skoal. It wasn’t that we were willfully ignorant of the issues surrounding the Iraq War, or that we were in denial, but when your finger is on a trigger, when your face is covered in your friends’ brain matter, you aren’t thinking about “good and evil” or “grey areas.” That is the entire point [the critics] miss; the film was about a man on the ground and the struggle to come home with a head full of grief and regret, not the Iraq war itself."
Pretty straight-forward, right? But it was his parting shot that put everything into perspective: "To those who saw the movie as more of a ‘pro Bush/Iraq/Right Wing/anti-Muslim’ political statement and want to bash it and our military... The movie wasn’t for you,” he concluded. “It was for the guy with mud on his boots and a hole in his heart, and for the families that are left to pick up the pieces. Go back to your latte.” Perfect!
Like I said, I may not be able to share the feelings and emotions of Chris Kyle and his family, but I can applaud the objectives of this movie and the voice it lends our military. God has a purpose for every human being in this world, and our role may not always be pretty or politically correct. The world can be an ugly place, and He needs warriors (yes, even imperfect warriors) to face Evil head-on; to destroy it in ways that we normal folks could never do. Chris Kyle answered that call, and many soldiers came home alive because of his skills. In my book, that makes him a hero.
1 Samuel 15:18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’