Chris Kyle Day

Abbott's Chris Kyle Day a move to boost morale

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott declared Feb. 2 as Chris Kyle Day in Texas. Kyle, the notorious Navy SEAL marksman who was portrayed in the popular film "American Sniper," is a big deal, especially as of late with the success of the film. Everyone and their mother know about "the guy from 'American Sniper.'" According to this CNN article, "Kyle became a legend in military circles due to his 160 confirmed kills and developed a deadly reputation in Iraq, where he served several times. He's considered one of the most lethal snipers in U.S. history." Kyle was murdered in 2013 at a North Texas gun range by a former Marine.

Abbott's justification for the introduction of the holiday was based on honoring our military heroes. During his speech at the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention last Friday, Abbott described Abbott as "a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield." His announcement was met with a standing ovation.

This is a uniquely unpolitical move on behalf of Abbott. While I'm not surprised that such an act of patriotic appreciation is happening in Texas, you would be hard-pressed to find concrete opposition to the holiday. Despite that fact that Kyle earned his notoriety from killing people, he was killed unjustly — something characterized by other holidays we celebrate in the United States.

While Kyle is no Martin Luther King, Jr. (or John F. Kennedy, for that matter), he is a Texan, and Lord knows Texans love celebrating their own. In fact, the same CNN article reported that "thousands mourned him in his home state, lining a 200-mile route to his final resting place in Austin and attending a memorial service at the Cowboys stadium in Dallas." Kyle was undeniably loved, so why not name a day after him? The words frivolous and unnecessary initially came to mind when I read about Abbott's declaration, but now I realize that this act is just what Abbott needed to boost morale across the state. Regardless of your political affiliation, you can't help but admit that the holiday was instituted for the right reasons.

Happy Chris Kyle Day to you all.

Governor-elect Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference following his victory over Wendy Davis.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Gov. Greg Abbott declared Feb. 2 “Chris Kyle Day” in Texas to honor the decorated ex-Navy SEAL sniper killed last February. Abbott and legislators gathered at the Capitol on Monday to sign the proclamation honoring Kyle and other soldiers.

Kyle is a hero, Abbott said, and should be honored for his service to the country.

“[Heroes are people] who take risks and suffer consequences most Americans cannot comprehend, but which all Americans should deeply honor,” Abbott said.

Marine Corps veteran Eddie Ray Routh shot and killed Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield in February 2013 at a shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Kyle, who had 160 confirmed kills throughout his four tours in Iraq, was honorably discharged in 2009.

The film “American Sniper” recounts Kyle’s life and is nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Kyle is just one of many veterans worth honoring, according to Abbott.

“We have so many of those heroes from here in the state of Texas,” Abbott said. “One of them we are naming this day after, Chris Kyle, but as Chris himself would tell you, he’s one of a band of brothers and sisters who fought side by side for the greatest country in the history of the world.”

This is not the first time the Texas legislature has addressed Kyle’s service in Iraq. Legislators passed The “Chris Kyle Bill” during the 83rd legislative session in 2013. The bill requires that military experience, such as Kyle’s, be recognized on occupational licenses — making it easier for veterans to find jobs.

Daniel Hamilton, international relations and global studies junior and Marine veteran, said he hopes the day will help civilians remember that people in the military are fighting for civilians’ everyday freedoms.

“The things we have aren’t just here because we woke up and got them this way,” said Hamilton, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “They are here because a lot of young men and women have done an extraordinary thing with their life.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he supports Abbott in making Feb. 2 “Chris Kyle Day.”

“I appreciate his efforts to recognize this American and Texas hero whose bravery, courage and ultimate sacrifice reminds us all that our freedom has a price,” Patrick said.

The Arab Students Association declined to comment on Abbott’s declaration of Chris Kyle Day.

Although Hamilton said he does not think everything Kyle did was moral or representative of veterans as a whole, he said it is dangerous to judge someone’s actions when they were in a war and are not here to defend themselves.

“I understand the kind of conflicts people are having about the things that he said and the things that he did, but anything in war is not going to be clean-cut,” Hamilton said.

Jeremiah Gunderson, coordinator of student veteran services, said, regardless of the political controversy surrounding Kyle, he and the veteran services center are glad there is a day recognizing the efforts of veterans.

“I know there have been issues and controversy about him,” Gunderson said. “But for us, any time that we can emphasize the sacrifices of veterans and bring to life some of the issues that were seen in the movie as far as PTSD, we try to emphasize on that.”