"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Monday, November 4, 2013

Peering Over the Fence- One Last Thank You

I bought my third copy of American Sniper, a few days ago.  That seems excessive, I know.  And it most likely is. I certainly didn’t need it. I had already bought a copy for my own personal library and then I bought one to lend. But now, the publishers have released a Memorial Edition with an additional 80 pages of memories from friends, family and co-workers of Chief Chris Kyle. I wanted to read those memorials, for sure; but I also simply wanted to support the book. As I said before Chris Kyle is an American hero, and he is my hero, I simply believe in supporting the statement he has made in writing his book. In a nation, that often makes heroes of actors, singers, and athletes that are not worthy of hero status, I believe in supporting one when we finally find one worthy of that honor.

If you are looking for perfection in a hero, you will not find it in Chris Kyle.  But for that matter, (of course we all know) we won’t find perfection in any man or woman.  But that is not what heroes are about. We are not making “gods” of heroes or putting them on some pedestal from which they can fall.  They most certainly will fall. But rather, heroes are about honoring a job well done, heroes are about respecting some one who isn’t afraid to stand for what they believe, but most of all heroes are about leading by example and causing us to see we can be better, too. We can excel, we can be exceptional, we can, in spite of our faults, aspire to something higher. Heroes are about making ourselves better; every nation needs that.

So that said, I simply find that in Chris Kyle. I have written about him before which you can read here.  I am not sorry I bought the Memorial Edition of his book. There are so many lessons in just those 80 extra pages that his friends wrote. It absolutely amazed me what could be drawn from each letter:  The importance of family; the fight for our nation; that others should come before ourselves; that even all of that is in vain without our Savior and Lord Who will always get us through, but not necessarily out of our circumstances.

I wanted to single out and write down each lesson from each letter – as I said there is a valuable lesson in each. But obviously for space, I can’t do that. However, I did write it down it for myself. And it is easy to see there is a common thread woven throughout each letter. I decided to highlight those threads. One of the most common and most consistent is Chris’s humility. I love that; humility is something that has always been very important to me. The other is his service to others – Chris Kyle always put others before himself. Chris defended the underdog – always. Finally, he was a man of faith, and knew he could get nowhere without it. He gave credit to the Only One who deserves credit.

He was very simply a humble and kind-hearted man. He would be the first to admit that he was a man filled with sin and far from perfect. But what his life revealed is he was a man who lived out what he believed. That’s better than some of us. Some of us, as we look down our noses at others in judgment at someone with whom we disagree, totally forget our own “righteousness is as filthy rags”, but not for the blood of Jesus. As we go about looking down on others, we forget to offer a hand up. Chris Kyle always offered that hand, as you will see over and over and over again in these memorials. I am so glad I bought this edition.

I would say just read the letters, there are so many lessons in each one of those letters.  But I am sure one wouldn’t understand the depth of the lesson in the letter without first getting to know and understand the man. I would say American Sniper should be read in every high school, if not for some of the language used in the book. But don’t let that side-track you from the message he has written with his life. And don't say I didn't warn you; as I said before, he cusses like a sailor on steroids...because he's a SEAL.

I’ve had many heroes throughout my life, and that is simply because I believe in heroes.  As I have said before, I believe heroes have always held an important role in our society. We have moved away from that, these days, it seems. Though I am old enough to be his parent, I have learned much from the life of Chris Kyle.  And maybe it isn’t even that I have learned so much from his life, but rather that he has validated that which I believe so strongly. Maybe it’s that he encouraged me to believe there are still young people that “get it”. Maybe it’s that he exemplifies the best of what man can do for their fellow man. Maybe it’s simply that he believes what I believe. But he put action to his words, so much better than I ever have. I’m thankful for the hero, I found in Chris Kyle.

Below, as example without giving too much away of what is written, are some of the lessons others have shared in the Memorial Edition. There are many more worth taking the time to read.

  • From his parents: About Chris - “One who could stand proud, even in defeat, but humble and gentle in victory.” And also from his folks: “He would not allow words to take the place of deeds.”
  • From his wife, Taya: True love is a package deal; the whole sum; good and bad; failures and successes.
  • Chris’s brother: “A guy who was 'wired' to help other people…just a regular guy.”
  • Friend: A true gentleman...in every sense of the word.
  • Marcus Luttrell: “He saved countless lives.” His constant mission – “draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect his brothers.”
  • Businessman: “Being a businessman, I found it hard at first to believe that he gave away all of the money from his book; after spending time with him, I believed it.  His big black ford truck looked pretty cool, but it also had around 150,000 miles and he could not afford to replace it. He was a true American hero.”
  • Sergeant, Dallas Police Department: “He stood ready in the night to visit violence upon those who would do us harm.”
  • Co-Author: Regarding the most memorable moments of Chris’s passing “…the sight that is burned into my memory is the long line of faces peering over the fence behind us, people from around the city, the state, and the country, regular folks offering one last thank-you to a man who gave his all to his country, his God, and his family.” (The faces extend far beyond that fence line – I am one of them.)
  • Wife of Ryan Job, Fellow SEAL Wounded in Action: - …one of the few who still came…


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