I don't usually stay still during daylight hours. I am an active person. But Saturday the rain was unrelenting, and I did not venture out for my morning walk.
Instead, in the morning, I sat and worked on my memoir. I realized that the Christmas letters I have been writing since 1983 were a good source for refreshing my memories of those years when we were busy raising kids. I have filled in and edited the first 100 pages and have now reached the year 2002. I intend to finish this work this month, and then perhaps do a yearly update.
Midday we traveled to Tacoma to have a mini-reunion with a couple Tom had gone to college with. It had been 53 years since Tom had had contact with them, and he rediscovered them through a comment by another friend on Facebook. We had a delightful three hour lunch while catching up on old times and the passing years.
We then spent an hour browsing an antique mall to search for treasures and have a place to move out of the rain.
In the evening we went to see the movie American Sniper. This movie has raised controversy and I had read some editorials and movie background and was aware of the whole coward/hero mess.
I went in knowing that Clint Eastwood had taken large literary license with Chris Kyle's autobiography, and that I needed to view it as fiction based on fact.
I went to see for myself, to get my own reaction. And that first reaction was "It's just a damn war movie!" Tom wasn't aware that a chief element of the plot, the contest between Kyle and enemy sniper Mustafa hadn't really happened. When I told him afterward, he lost faith in the whole movie. To him, that was what held it together and gave Kyle motivation.
But as I gave it more thought, I came to understand that, as his dad taught him, in his mind there were sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. He was raised to be a sheepdog, a protector, one who saves the sheep from the wolves. He saw his fellow soldiers as sitting ducks (sheep) out there and it was his job to save then.
War reduces warriors to "kill or be killed" and in this movie, the killing was endless. In real life, Kyle was credited with 160 kills, but his actual count was probably 255 - people. Unlike the movie, he never did kill a child - said he would not do that.
Bradley Cooper did a remarkable job of portraying Chris Kyle, or at least the Chris Kyle that the director wanted portrayed. The angst showing in Cooper's eyes was great acting. But Kyle never expressed that angst in his book. He said he liked his four tours in Iraq and the only reason he left the Navy Seals was to save his marriage. I can tell you that by about three quarters of the way through, I was tired of the whiny wife and the endless shooting and killing.
It seems pretty clear that Kyle had a "savior complex" and after he left active duty, he began to visit wounded vets who still needed "saving". That set him up for the tragic and ironic ending of his life. The troubled young soldier he last took to the therapeutic shooting range still had trouble separating war from life, and when firing a weapon, couldn't separate shooting from killing, from aiming at people, not paper.
The movie does not show Kyle's death, but it does show actual footage of his funeral procession and service. He was certainly a war hero, and he was honored as such.
I guess the controversy stems from who we choose as our own personal heroes. I choose mine based on ordinary, everyday people who behave or perform acts in extraordinary ways. There can be heroes in war, but war is not where I look for my heroes.