Some but not many of you are aware of my background in military journalism: I’m both a gun writer and a military journalist, and the two worlds not only intertwine but complement one another. An excellent example of the way my two writing sides mingle is being showcased on Christmas day: American Sniper is being shown in select theaters.
Chris Kyle’s story is one I believe absolutely should be told, and although I have my concerns regarding how accurately the movie will relay the events of his service as a SEAL, I wouldn’t miss it. Unfortunately it’s looking as though the naysayers are working overtime on this one, though, because the movie has yet to come out and the mud slinging has already begun.
Men’s Journal has chosen to get things going with an article titled “The Controversial True Story Behind American Sniper.” The body of the article goes through exactly what you’d expect from negative coverage related to Chris Kyle: it talks about Jesse Ventura, the carjacking story, and Hurricane Katrina. Their account of the Ventura lawsuit is inaccurate and lacking in details and the information as a whole is heavily slanted to paint Kyle in a poor light. And all this before the movie has even hit theaters.
The second anniversary of Chris Kyle’s death is fast approaching, making the timing of the movie simultaneously ideal and emotionally significant for those who knew him. On my bookshelf sit copies of American Sniper and American Gun as well as the memorial edition of American Sniper that came out after Kyle’s death, and in my closet hangs cloth evidence of my support of the late man who was known as the Devil of Ramadi. Because although Kyle himself is now beyond caring what others say, his wife and children see, hear, and bear witness to every single word. The good, the bad, and the unwarranted ugly; Chris’ widow Taya and their two children are subjected to every syllable, filter-free.
We don’t yet know whether the movie will do right by Chris Kyle – and I will make sure and let you all know how it measures up to reality once I see it – but we do know one thing: Chris Kyle was an American hero. He served this nation at great risk to his own well-being, putting his life on the line for the very people who now insult him and question his story. The weight of his tragic death here in the States less than two years ago serves as a constant reminder that none of us can be sure what each day will bring and that we’d be wise to make each moment count. At the time of his death Chris Kyle was actively working to help veterans suffering from PTS, and it was one of those men who ended up taking his life as well as the life of his friend, Chad Littlefield, who had accompanied him to the range that day.
Chris Kyle lived to serve his country, and he died in the service of men who had, themselves, served – served, and suffered for it. And while he may not have been killed in combat, he was killed fighting a different type of battle, a more insidious one: the battle against PTS. That was Chris Kyle; that was the man, The Legend. May his memory live on.
To Men’s Journal and all other pre-emptive naysayers: I am deeply disappointed with your choice to paint a murdered combat veteran as a liar and a fraud. The man was a combat-proven Navy SEAL, a phenomenally talented sniper and a hard-charging badass, and he is dead. Do his memory the honor of showing his widow and their children some respect. He is known as The Legend for a reason, and those who do respect his memory are many. I count myself among them. Do you?