Today is the 6 year anniversary of the death of Chris Kyle.
Six years since we lost one of the good guys.
Our society seems to have such a difficult time distinguishing between the good guys and the bad guys these days. We live in a upside-down world where we defend the evil and demonize the ones trying to protect us.
Chris was no exception.
Not long after the release of of the movie American Sniper, I saw a headline that said “Is Eastwood celebrating a killer?“ At first I simply stared at the question in disbelief. Is this rhetorical? But it seems not. It seems we’re really that confused.
So please allow me to answer.
Chris did not earn the nickname “the Devil of Ramadi” from our enemies by handing out hugs. 160 confirmed kills. 255 probable kills. So…….I’m not sure why there seems to be question of whether he was a killer. Common knowledge I believe.
That being said, using the label “killer” invokes imagery of Charles Manson or Jack the Ripper. Men (or women) whose body counts were far fewer than those of Chris. Hollywood and many severely sheltered Americans seem to believe there to be no difference. Killing is killing, right?
I will be honest, the fact that anyone could draw a parallel between these two types of killing is baffling to me. It seems absolutely ludicrous in my mind, but apparently there is much I assume to be general knowledge that is simply not commonplace in our country.
Please excuse my attempt at explaining the difference from the perspective of a civilian- the wife of a veteran- but a civilian nonetheless. I cannot even begin to explain the entirety of the issue as I am not qualified, seeing as how I have not served. But from one civilian to another I ask you consider the following…
Yes. To take any life is to kill. And I do mean any. Any time a life is ended at the hands of a human being that human being is technically a killer. But that’s a pretty broad spectrum. Accidental death, suicide, abortion, murder, war…all tragic losses of life at the hands of other humans. But are all these people considered “killers” in our society? If a child accidentally causes the death of a parent or sibling, are they a killer? They ended a life. So technically yes. But should they carry that label?
Here is the line we can’t seem to find. All killing is not murder. Taking a life is not always murder. Taking innocent life out of anger or selfishness or just for the sheer pleasure of it, is murder. It is grounded in a lack of respect for human life.
In the case of Chris Kyle and virtually every service member I have personally known, of which there are many…lack of respect for human life is never the motivation. In fact, the motivation is an absolute respect for human life. A desire to protect.
Chris killed because had he not, those individuals would have killed innocent people. The individuals he eliminated were threats to those he was sworn to protect. Whether that be our own civilians, foreign civilians or his brothers fighting on our behalf.
He was not a “killer” he was a protector. The “devil” to our enemies. An angel to our soldiers and the innocent lives he saved.
A sniper is the epitome of precision.
Those who question the tactic of using a sniper would doubtful prefer we simply level an entire area and sort out the bodies later. A sniper ensures we do the best we can to eliminate threat with minimal collateral damage. To protect human life to the greatest extent possible.
The Make Up of a Murderer
No matter how extensively our troops are trained to kill, it messes with them. In one way or another, it will always affect them. It’s not natural. They are not murderers.
They’ve had to be trained to react. They’ve spent years being taught how to do what they may to need to do. They didn’t get up one morning and decide they just wanted to kill someone for fun.
There wasn’t a choice. They didn’t kill for pleasure. They killed to protect.
What About the Innocent?
Some will say snipers like Chris have killed innocent civilians as well. I have two responses to this.
One, and this should be most obvious, war is a horrible, ugly, tragic thing. The reason we try so hard not to allow the enemy to bring the fight to our soil is that in war, innocent people die. There are ALWAYS casualties of those caught in the crossfire.
In virtually every war since the beginning of time innocents have been killed. We try to eliminate a threat before it arrives here to protect our people. Our men and women spend years away from their families in an effort to keep what they witness there from coming here. The accidental death of an innocent in war doesn’t make a killer. It makes war a terrible thing to be avoided whenever possible.
Secondly, we do not fight an enemy who has respect for human life. This puts us on an unfair playing field. We can’t even fathom strapping a bomb to one of our children and sending them into an enemy camp. We value innocent life. The enemy knows this. So they use it.
They know that it will go against everything in a soldier’s moral being to kill a child. So a child is the perfect way for them to ensure mass casualty. It becomes a win for them either way. If the child reaches the target they have executed a successful attack. If an American shoots the child before the target is reached, they receive a propaganda win. American soldier slays innocent child. They’re absolutely right. It was an innocent child who was killed. But it wasn’t the soldier who killed him. It was the sick and twisted mindset that would allow a child to become an expendable pawn in the tragedy of war.
What our society doesn’t understand is that the more “innocent ” people we allow to be successful in their attacks, the more the enemy will use. If we do not allow these attacks to be successful they have to switch tactics. In essence, once again, the sniper is saving lives.
Counting the Lives
We document kills by snipers because it would be impossible to count lives saved. But those who have served or who love someone who has served will tell you, it’s not the kills that matter. It’s the lives spared in the process. Countless men and women who came home to their precious families because of Chris Kyle. Children who grew up with a daddy or mommy because of Chris Kyle. American lives saved because of Chris Kyle.
So while the ignorant of the world label him “killer,” those of us who understand are grateful and yes…we will always celebrate the life of the “Devil of Ramadi”