As Americans elsewhere wrangle over Chris Kyle’s complicated legacy and his portrayal in “American Sniper,” the Navy SEAL sharpshooter’s home state is leaving little doubt about where it stands.
On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) proclaimed Feb. 2 “Chris Kyle Day,” a declaration made to honor the late marksman, whose autobiography, “American Sniper,” is the basis of the box office smash by the same name.
“We can never repay the debt we owe for the lives he saved and the freedom he preserved — but we can honor his memory, his patriotism, his sacrifice and his inspiration,” Abbott said at the statehouse in Austin.
Abbott encouraged “all Texans to pay tribute to the legacy of Chief Petty Officer Kyle, a great Texan and a true American hero.”
Kyle was killed on Feb. 2, 2013, at a Texas shooting range.
He and a friend, Chad Littlefield, were fatally shot while trying to help a fellow veteran who was struggling with post traumatic stress disorder. A trial for Eddie Ray Routh, who is accused of killing Kyle and Littlefield, is scheduled to begin on Feb. 9.
J. Warren St. John, Routh’s attorney, will reportedly pursue an insanity defense. But he already has questioned whether he can get a fair trial while a blockbuster film about Kyle plays in theaters nationwide.
The Clint Eastwood-directed film starring Bradley Cooper is the nation’s top earner, having made nearly $250 million since its release, according to Variety. The film — nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture — fell just short of setting a box-office record over Super Bowl weekend. But, box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told USA Today: “This is still the movie that everyone is talking about. It has really struck a national chord in a profound way.”
“He would just be in awe of it, really,” Kyle’s widow, Taya, told People about the success of the film.
“At the same time, I can also see him being almost uncomfortable in some ways with the attention,” she added. “He got used to it in some ways with the book but not entirely – not ever.”
Here is the full text of Abbott’s proclamation:
Since the birth of our nation, in times of war and in times of peace, brave men and women have stepped forward, placing service above self to fight for a higher cause. As the best and brightest our state and nation has to offer, these courageous patriots deserve the utmost honor and respect.
One of those patriots is a Texas legend. Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle of Midlothian, Texas, is widely known as the United States military’s most prolific sniper, but his legacy is so much more than marksmanship. As a dedicated Navy SEAL, Kyle was called on every day to make life-and-death decisions on too many battlefields to count, sacrificing comfort and safety to fight for our country and save lives at home and abroad. From his Texas roots to the front lines on which he served, his loyalty to our flag and commitment to liberty and justice for all stands as a shining beacon to this generation and the next — a beacon reminding us of the uncommon courage that our fearless warriors display daily.
Kyle survived the battlefields of Iraq, but he was tragically killed on Texas soil on February 2, 2013. We can never repay the debt we owe for the lives he saved and the freedom he preserved — but we can honor his memory, his patriotism, his sacrifice and his inspiration.
By proclaiming today, February 2, 2015, as Chris Kyle Day, I recognize — as Chief Petty Officer Kyle would insist — that he is the face of a larger force for freedom that has made this country the bravest, strongest and freest in the history of the world. Kyle is one of the legions of valiant warriors who made the ultimate commitment to our country: they put their lives on the line for a cause greater than themselves. They faced risks few Americans can comprehend, but all Americans should honor. So many Texans like Kyle have served with unmatched honor, bravery and heroism, and a grateful country is better because of them.
Chief Petty Officer Kyle would be the first to remember and recognize his friend, his ballast and fellow Texan, Chad Littlefield, who lost his life at the same time and place. Kyle was a man of deep faith who trusted that God would provide for him and his family. As his wife, Taya, said, Kyle taught her how to turn a life full of fear into a life full of faith. Texas thanks God for Kyle and his family.
Kyle will forever be enshrined in our memory as an example all who have served and continue to serve to protect our families and our freedoms. I encourage all Texans to pay tribute to the legacy of Chief Petty Officer Kyle, a great Texan and a true American hero. Today, we commemorate his passing, and we honor his service and the service of his comrades in arms who have joined him to defend our great nation.
Therefore, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim February 2, 2015, to be Chris Kyle Day.
[This post has been updated.]