I finally went to see the film American Sniper. There has been much written about Clint Eastwood’s Oscar nominated film based upon Chris Kyle’s auto-biography of the same name. Some have ridiculed Kyle for his lethality calling him a coward, others have praised him as an America hero and battlefield legend.
I read the book well before seeing the film. What stands out in my mind is how Chris Kyle’s life was a purpose driven one. He was blessed with certain skills and used those skills to save lives, but in a way most, particularly those who have never served in combat, would not understand.
In the film one quote stands out for me. Kyle, portrayed by Bradley Cooper, near the end of the film meets with a Veteran’s Administration doctor. The doctor asks Kyle if he has any regrets, to which Kyle replies:
I was just protecting my guys, they were trying to kill… our soldiers and I… I’m willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took.
To me that is what drove Chris Kyle throughout his short but heroic life. He wanted to protect what he loved most – our soldiers.
Kyle put God first in his life, then his duty to the nation and finally his responsibilities as a husband and father of two children. In the film Taya Renae Kyle, like most military wives, finds it difficult to understand Chris’ reality – his purpose driven life. Taya, portrayed by Sienna Miller, states, “You’re my husband, you’re the father of my children. Even when you’re here, you’re not here. I see you, I feel you, but you’re not here.”
Like most combat veterans, Chris Kyle suffered from what I call “survivors remorse.” Survivors remorse is the feeling of coming home from a combat deployment and grappling with the fact that you survived the ordeal while others of your brothers, and sisters, did not. The question is always: Why did I survive? The compelling desire is to go back into combat and by doing so get another chance at “protecting the guys.”
The worth of a soldier, trained to defend his country, is measured by saving the lives of his brothers-in-arms. Coming home safely with everyone you deployed with is the goal. To achieve that goal you must kill the enemy before he kills you or your brothers-in-arms.
The Congressional Medal of Honor is founded upon the principle of sacrifice above ones self. This purpose driven life, service above oneself, is especially evident, from my experiences, with the U.S. military elite forces such as: U.S. Army Rangers, U.S. Army airborne soldiers, U.S. Army Special Forces, Marine Recon and Navy SEALs.
It was this purpose driven life that inextricably led to Chris Kyle’s untimely death. Kyle became personally involved with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom wounded warriors. It was one of these soldiers, a U.S. Marine, who fatally shot Kyle on February 2, 2013.
I highly recommend seeing American Sniper. It will change your view of what Chris Kyle was really all about.