Both of my grandpas served in World War II, several of my uncles served in the Vietnam War as well as the Korean War, and currently I have a brother and sister who are serving in the U.S. Air Force. You could say that I have a military family. And, to be honest, if I were taller and in about a thousand times better shape than I am now, I would have probably joined the military myself. It was just how my siblings and I were raised. “God, country, family, right?”
I don’t like watching military movies too often, basically because, for me, it involves about ten boxes of tissues, a blubbering wet face from tears which leaves an awkward red blush on my cheeks and just the horrendous sounds of sobbing. But, after seeing commercials advertising “American Sniper,” I knew I had to see it. There was just something, that was even noticeable in the short trailer, so true and real about the movie that captured what it is actually like being a soldier and coming home from war.
(Warning: There are spoilers about the movie throughout the rest of this article…)
In the beginning of the movie, it shows how Chris Kyle was raised: Christian, small town, a house with a farm and a little brother whom he is very protective of. There is a scene that shows his little brother, Jeff Kyle, being beaten up by another kid during what seems to be recess. It goes back and forth between that scene and them eating dinner and their father explaining to them about the sheep, wolves and sheepdogs of the world. The sheep being the ones who “believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world,” so they wouldn’t know how to defend themselves. The wolves being the ones who “prey on the weak.” And then there are “those blessed with the gift of aggression, an overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed who live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog.” He then continues to explain that Chris and Jeff were not raised as sheep or wolves. Chris defends himself saying the boy was picking on Jeff. Their father then asks Jeff if this was true, and he replied, “yes, sir.” He then looks at Chris, “and did you stop it?” Younger Chris nods with a stern face.
It then goes on to show events that led Chris to join the Navy SEALs. The bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, and then the 9/11 attacks. He was a cowboy, but he felt that he wanted to do “something more.” So, he chose the Navy SEALs.
It shows a little bit of time in each of his four tours to Iraq. In his third tour, he sees a man with a bazooka come from around the corner and aim at a nearby building. Chris shoots him. People on the street then go off and run away, except one little boy. The little boy gets up, and starts to head over to the body and bazooka. He then proceeds to pick the bazooka up and aims. Chris is hesitant and keeps saying to himself “don’t pick it up, kid” and “drop it.” A split second before Chris is about to pull the trigger, the kid drops the weapon and runs away. Chris’ reaction: huge sigh, coughs and tears in his eyes.
After his fourth and final tour, in the movie, Chris goes straight to the bar once he is cleared and state side. He gets a phone call on his cellphone from his wife, who asks where he is because she got a notice saying that he was on a plane home. He doesn’t answer her question, but just says, “I guess I just needed a minute,” through tears. (That, to me, was the hardest part of the movie besides the ending.)
For the rest of the movie, you get to be inside what it is like to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), even though it still does not come close to the true feelings of horror that comes with the mental condition.
This scenario starts off showing Chris sitting in the living room, looking at the television. You hear gun shots, explosions, people-including children-screaming and just loud rumbling from the chaos. As the camera pans around, you notice that the television is off; it’s all inside Chris’ mind. His wife then walks in from outside, where you see a party going on in the background. She looks concerned, but tells him to join them outside. The two are then sitting outside, watching the children playing, including one with a dog. Chris is staring, watching intently as the kid is playing with the dog, and not really paying attention to his wife speaking about their daughter losing her tooth and what they should do about it. Then, the dog playfully jumps on the little boy as the little boy gets knocked down. You can then notice that the dog is licking the little boy, but Chris is already there ready to smack the dog off. Before he can do anything except aggressively pull the dog away as it whimpers, his wife screams “Chris!” He pauses and looks around, the reality of the situation hitting him.
After that incident, he starts to see a therapist. There you come to learn what is really upsetting Chris. It’s not the people who he killed-they were attacking his men, so he was defending them. But, instead, it is the men he couldn’t save. With this statement, his therapist tells him that any men in the hospital could be saved. “You want to take a walk?” the therapist asks. Chris agrees. The therapist took him to a few men who were hanging out and just talking. You learn of a man whose arm was saved because of a cigarette. “And I still smoke!” the man says. That makes everyone in the group, including Chris, laugh. The therapist walks away with a smile.
Some more information about Chris Kyle not shown in the movie according to D Magazine, a magazine from the hometown of Chris in Dallas, Texas, says that other than just having 160 confirmed kills-and those are just confirmed-while in Iraq, Chris Kyle “survived six IED attacks, three gunshot wounds, [and] two helicopter crashes.”
You might be wondering why I chose just a few scenes from the movie and why this article is so long. It is to show what Chris had gone through, and what many soldiers have gone and are going through. And to show that Chris is just an average guy with a huge job. Since this movie has caused so much controversy, I wanted to show that side. The controversy has come from a celebrity calling snipers “cowards” to a columnist stating that Chris needed to “examine the darkness of his own soul and his contribution to the war crimes we carried out in Iraq.”
Snipers are not cowards. How could they be? They are still as in much danger as the other men who might be house searching. You never know who will come up behind your back, or who is doing the same thing as you: looking at you through a scope hundreds of yards away. And speaking of that, they see up close and personal every person that they shoot through the scope. That’s not an easy thing to get over.
As stated in the movie, they are not “just protecting this dirt” in Iraq. If those terrorist who are specifically after Americans get to America, we would be wishing that we had those men and women who are brave enough to fight overseas rather than at home. We don’t want to know that danger and what it is like living in horror everyday all over the world. It is better to be contained.
Yes, war is bad. But, so was 9/11.
We are protecting ourselves from the people who want to harm us for no good reason other than that they were brainwashed and raised to hate Americans by radical leaders.
And it’s not like those men want to or like killing people. They are doing it because it is their job to protect our country and the men and woman who are over there with them. It’s what they signed up for. If they liked killing people, the military would never give them a gun. In “American Sniper,” they repeat that over and over again. All Chris wanted to do was protect our country, not kill those people. If he wanted to kill, he would have shot that innocent little boy who picked up the bazooka. It is awful that the world has come to such a time where the only way to protect our own and other countries is to go to war. There is so much violence everywhere and it just needs to stop. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
What I also loved about the movie was the, what I like to call, military humor. There is a scene where they are at lunch or dinner and a man starts to introduce Chris in a majestic way. Chris just throws food and pours his drink over the guy, laughing “it was the only way to shut you up!” Another humorous scene is when he is speaking to his wife, who is pregnant, on the phone. She asks “do you want me to talk dirty to you?” He, of course, says yes and changes to his headphones. As they speak, he laughs and says, “You are one horny preggers!” Lastly, a bitter sweet moment occurs when Chris visits a fellow soldier who was hit by a gun and left with a traumatic face defect. The soldier tells Chris, “They’re going to fix my face though.” “Oh, thank God, they’re finally going to fix your face,” Chris responds. It is that type of humor that gets the soldiers by. If they weren’t laughing, they would be crying. And that’s what I think is so important to remember: everything that every soldier has gone through and how bravely they react to their experiences.