Saturday, January 17, 2015

His Aim Was True

But I didn’t risk my life to bring democracy to Iraq. I risked my life for my buddies, to protect my friends and fellow countrymen. I went to war for my country, not Iraq. My country sent me out there so that bullshit wouldn’t make its way back to our shores. I never once fought for the Iraqis. I could give a flying fuck about them.
- Chris Kyle 

Today, the Missus and I are going to see Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper", which has (to my eye and ear) received almost universally-glowing reviews.  It is the film adaptation of the autobiography of United States Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was the most lethal sniper in the history of the United States Military.  As someone who has always valued the printed page more than the silver screen, I bought the book last week and read it this week as I wanted to have read Kyle's words prior to viewing them through the prism of Jason Hall's screenplay and Eastwood's directorial lens.  

Irrespective of one's politics, one's point of view on the breadth of the American military industrial complex and/or this nation's commitment of hundreds and thousands of our men and women to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I strongly recommend that you take the time to read Chris Kyle's book.  I found it to be a wholly worthwhile read.  

Chris Kyle survived multiple tours in Iraq in spite of having spent a lot of his time in places not likely to found in Zagat's guide.  Ironically, having finally made it home to his family, he was killed here in the United States.  Whether it was irony or coincidence that the sniper who recorded more documented kills than any other sniper in the history of our military was shot to death on February 2, 2013 by a fellow veteran is for those far more intelligent than me to ponder.   

Do not purchase Kyle's book expecting to be entertained by tales about the glory of war for I fear you shall be disappointed.  The excerpt above fairly captures, I think, the very straightforward, matter-of-fact manner in which Kyle discussed what he did and why he did what he did.  Respectfully, any debate over the propriety or lack thereof of his position borders on the farcical if and when its participants include persons such as me - and perhaps you as well - who never have found ourselves in such circumstances.  Forget walking a mile in this particular man's shoes.  I, for one, have never even been called upon to lace them up.  

Kyle the Navy Seal battled with Kyle the Husband/Father for control of his own soul.  Among the most revealing parts of his book are his admissions of being torn between his duty to his unit and his duty to his family.  Equally revealing are the passages in the book his wife (now widow) Taya wrote. Her recognition of the warring camps alive within her husband was clear.  Both of them acknowledged that the three most important things in the world to him were God, Country and Family.  Both of them acknowledged further that in spite of his love for her and their two small children, Family was the third-most important of the three to him and the two of them battled long and hard over her unending campaign to elevate it to second place in his life.   

If I understood the last several pages of the book, by the time of his death Taya Kyle had done no worse than forged a tie for second place...

I was raised with, and still believe in, the Christian faith. If I had to order my priorities, they would be God, Country, Family. There might be some debate on where those last two fall—these days I’ve come around to believing that Family may, under some circumstances, outrank Country. But it’s a close race. 
- Chris Kyle

And on the subject of steps walked in the shoes of another, shortly after I finished reading "American Sniper" on Thursday night, I came across this photograph on-line (courtesy of my brother Bill).  It is a Memorial at Fort Hood, Texas.  

One boot for every American life lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Memorial at Fort Hood, Texas 


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