Gov. Greg Abbott declares Feb. 2 ‘Chris Kyle Day’

Eleanor Dearman

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.”