[American Sniper has been nominated for Best Picture. Bradley Cooper has been nominated for Best Actor. Chances are in this political climate Selma will win Best Picture. Kudos to Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood, the director of this powerful film who was not nominated. This role is way out of the ordinary for Cooper, and I commend him for taking on the depiction of such a larger-than-life man and SEAL hero. Big shoes to fill.]
The subtitle to American Sniper is The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice believed in the value of, and assisted in writing, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's story. The most prolific sniper of "bad guys", Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were mysteriously and allegedly murdered by a Marine in Reserve status at a gun range.
This is the honest story of the warrior Chris Kyle, who, if you believe you are marked for specific callings at creation, was destined to be a true soldier with the gumption, courage, determination, and skills to become the SEAL who attained the most recorded kills as a sniper in U.S. military history.
American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle's inevitable military career, how he pursued the option of becoming a SEAL and how in his mind the order of life was God, country, family. His wife Taya's thoughts and emotional responses to this order, her struggles with anger and resentment as their two children were born, are recorded intermittently throughout the book. Her comments help bring to the forefront the difficulties of being a military wife, particularly the wife or family member of an elite soldier who can't tell his loved ones anything about his location or specific duties and seems to value being with the Team more than being at home.
I'm going to give those of you who intend to read this amazing story a few quotations from Chris. These telltale words say more than anything I could say.
"And then we had a third group of Iraqi soldiers that we used in villages outside the city. . . .
"As fighters went, they sucked. The brightest Iraqis, it seemed, were usually the insurgents, fighting against us. . . .
"Let's just say they were incompetent, if not outright dangerous. . . .
"Besides being particularly inept, a lot of jundis were just lazy. You'd tell them to do something and they'd reply, 'Inshallaah.'
"Some people translate that as 'God willing.' What it really means is 'ain't gonna happen.'
"Most of the jundis wanted in the army to get a steady paycheck, but they didn't want to fight, let alone die, for their country.
"I realize that a lot of the problem has to do with the screwed-up culture in Iraq. These people had been under a dictatorship for all their lives. Iraq as a country meant nothing to them, or at least nothing good. Most were happy to be rid of Saddam Hussein, very happy to be free people, but they didn't understand what that really meant - the other things that come with being free.
"The government wasn't going to be running their lives anymore, but it also wasn't going to be giving them food or anything else. It was a shock. And they were so backward in terms of education and technology that for Americans it often felt like being in the Stone Age.
"You can feel sorry for them, but at the same time you don't want these guys trying to run your war for you.
"And giving them the tools to progress is not what my job is all about. My job was killing, not teaching." Chris Kyle(excerpted from pages 251;252;253)
And this about taking Ramadi:
"You know how Ramadi was won?
"We went in and killed all the bad people we could find.
"When we started, the decent (or potentially decent) Iraqis didn't fear the United States; they did fear the terrorists. The U.S. told them, 'We'll make it better for you.'
"The terrorists told them, 'We'll cut your head off.'
"Who would you fear? Who would you listen to?
"When we went into Ramadi, we told the terrorists, 'We'll cut your head off. We will do whatever we have to and eliminate you.'
"Not only did we get the terrorists' attention - we got everyone's attention. We showed we were the force to be reckoned with.
"That's where the so-called Great Awakening came. It wasn't from kissin' up to the Iraqis. It was from kicking butt.
"The tribal leaders saw that we were the bad-asses, and they'd better get their act together, work together, and stop accommodating the insurgents. Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table.
"That is how the world works." Chris Kyle (excerpt from page 319)
Chris Kyle makes the battles come alive, the pain of losing Team members searing, the resentment of having to leave the SEALs even when he knew it was best for him, and the learning to regroup and love his family as he should, hit hard. He was born to be a warrior, he was a mighty man.
Chris Kyle was a Christian who by his own account was a little rough around the edges. But one thing for sure about this man of war: he had no trouble distinguishing good from evil. None. He killed bad guys in large numbers because they were intent on doing harm to his guys and all things good. He had no guilt or qualms about protecting his own. He recognized evil and acted to put it down. He paid no attention to the awards and medals he earned. Instead he hurt and mourned over the losses of his Brothers. His sorrows came over the ones he couldn't save. That was the heart of Chris Kyle, a true Navy SEAL.
I recommend reading American Sniper for all who respect the military and admire those who dedicate their lives to protecting the United States of America, one nation under God. As Chris Kyle's brother Jeff gave his heartbreaking response, "America has truly lost one of its finest sons." If you want to read cold, hard facts about war from someone who lived it and isn't afraid to speak about it, if you don't mind some hardcore language at times, and if you're a patriot, Chris Kyle's American Sniper is the book for you.
Father, you have defined evil for the world to know. Chris knew what was evil. Only you could plant that in his heart. You forgive us our own evil when we ask to be covered by the Blood of Jesus. We know we're sinners. Without you we would be evil too. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
It had been a long drive. He was surprised at how hard it was raining even though that’s all he’d heard about this area from the time he’d mentioned he was thinking of trying out this track clear across the country.
“Hutch, you’re going to hate it, I’m tellin’ ya.” He could still hear his cousin Rhett emphatically telling him and then spitting out his chew and shaking his head. “You’re just gonna hate it. You got plenty of mud caulks?”
Well, he was here, and it was midnight, pitch black, and raining hard enough to put his wipers on the extra fast mode.
“Geez,” he said under his breath.
Harry Dawson was having trouble sleeping again. The rain pounded on the roof in a steady downpour. He stared into the darkness of his bedroom and listened to his wife breathe deep and quiet. He turned his head to look at her. She looked beautiful even in the dark.
“God, it’s hard for me to fathom how much you must love me. There is no way I deserved her. No way I deserved her love—or yours.” He waited. “What is it, Lord? I know this unrest. You know I’ll do it. You know I will. No matter what.”
“Cee!” Dick shouted frantically. “Cee! Wake up!”
“Dick, wake up,” Cee said, voice soft, sleepy, touching her husband’s arm. “Are you dreaming again? Wake up.”
Dick returned from his nightmare, sweating and breathless. He rolled to his back reaching for his wife’s hand.
“When are you going to tell me what this dream is all about?” Her voice quiet.
“As soon as I figure out why I’m having it. I’m sorry to wake you, beautiful.”
Two large cups of coffee and still Dick was tired and crabby. He shut himself in his office until Elena knocked lightly on the door.
“Come in,” he called with a little tinge of irritation.
“This can wait, Dick,” Elena said, tentative as she poked her head inside the door.
“No, no. I’m irritated with myself, Elena, not you. I’m sorry I sounded like that.”
“You want to talk about it?”
“Yeah, I do, but I can’t.”
“No, not really. It’s just a dream I keep having—a bad one. I need to figure out why I keep having it. I’ve prayed about it, but the Lord seems to be kinda quiet on this one, and, to tell you the truth, I can’t figure that out either,” he said with disappointment.
“You know I’ve read that recurring dreams can be because of unresolved fears. I had a dream several times before Bill got so sick.”
“So, was it prophetic?”
“Bill is alive and well as you know. Miraculously healed. So, no, it was not prophetic, although in all honesty, there were times when I thought it was going to be.”
Dick stared at her.
“It’s about Cee, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is, Elena, and I’ve had it three times since we got married.”
“I believe the Lord will make it known to you, Dick. You seem to have that kind of relationship with Him. He shows you things. Hasn’t He used dreams to show you things before?”
“Yes, He has. Maybe that’s what I’m afraid of. What He’ll show me, I mean.”
Grady Hutchinson sat in the kitchen nursing a large styrofoam cup of hot black coffee as he perused the local sports page. Occasionally he looked up to see if there was someone he might possibly recognize in spite of the great odds against it. He’d heard Robert Sanders came out here last season and made a killing, but he didn’t know if he was back. It would be nice to see Robert again—he was a class act.
He looked out the window of the racetrack kitchen viewing someone’s rig parked on the side of the nearest barn to the south out of the way of the hotwalking machines. It had to belong to another horseshoer. Staring out the window, he saw a squatty built man with farrier chaps come out and open a compartment on the silver Chevy custom pickup. Hutch could tell he grabbed a couple sets of shoes before disappearing back into the shedrow.
Not the first time Hutch had come to a new track. It usually didn’t take him long to fit in and find work. He liked people as a rule, and they invariably liked him. He was grateful for that because when it came time to collect money, he discovered people had a tendency to pay him before they’d pay others. Of course, that probably had a lot to do with the fact he was just plain good at what he did. He kept up with every new shoe or experimental method used in his field, and he was so confident in his work he’d use anything to try and help a horse—no matter who “pooh-poohed” it or criticized a new idea. If it worked, he wanted to be able to use it. Who cared what people thought? All he cared about was being an expert. At times he knew he cared too much about it. And it had cost him everything. Everything except his work. At least it’s not raining this morning, still staring blankly out the window.
Glancing at his watch, he decided to head to the commission office to get his farrier’s license. After that he’d start cruising the barn area, start up some conversations, see if he could introduce himself to the other guys in his field and endure the inevitable sizing up and competitive nature of the other horseshoers. He’d been through it before many times. It was just part of the process. Boy, I’m a long way from home.
(For His Glory; sequel to Hope Of Glory) (Yes, the "of" is captialized on purpose.)