I’ve been thinking and praying about whether to share the below letter I wrote for most of this week. Though it was written with utmost respect and heartfelt sincerity, I wondered how could I possibly do it justice? But then I read a quote from Glennon Melton of Momastery that eased my mind. It was just what I needed to be reminded of about why I wanted to write it in the first place — to encourage the widow of Chris Kyle and let her know that she is seen, heard, and remembered. Though I can never truly know the magnitude of her pain, I identify and relate in many ways with what I do know of her story. Glennon said, “You know, what strikes me is how desperately we all need to know that we are seen and heard. We don’t need our lives to be different, or easier, we just need someone to see the pain. To know what we’ve faced and overcome. To say: Yes. I see this. This is real. We don’t need a magician to take it all away – we just need a witness.”
She nailed it. Though I don’t know that she’ll ever read it, I want this letter to be a witness for Taya Kyle just the same.
As the child of two veterans and the wife of a veteran, I’ve always found myself drawn to stories like yours – true stories of pain bound tightly with purpose. Stories of struggle and heartache that help us all to understand our shared humanity more clearly. In our years together as a couple, my husband and I have spent more time apart than together, so I understand the unique sacrifices that both you and your husband made for the good of our country.
I was captivated when I read your story in People magazine last week, and that’s when I knew for sure I had to see the movie American Sniper, which honors your husband’s life.
I thought about all the times I’d heard my mom or anyone else say they didn’t want to see a movie because it’d be “too sad.” I thought about the countless people who may feel similarly, even over a true story of epic importance to American history. We all carry our own baggage throughout life, and sometimes even stumble or trip over it. There are those who are vulnerable and easily triggered into remembering their own losses. So though we would never begrudge those who don’t see American Sniper, oh how I hope most do.
Your husband dedicated his life to serving his country, and now it is time for us to show up and pay our respects. You and your children sacrificed so your husband could pledge his life for ours and we want to show up for you.
My husband and I had this privilege last weekend. As the movie came to a close, the sorrow over your husband’s death was almost palpable. In contrast to mainstream movies that end with music and a happy shuffle of activity reverberating through the room, the retelling of your husband’s life was punctuated only by the deafening roar of quiet, that moved me to tears over the collective mourning the loss of a hero. Not a word was spoken as a packed house slowly filed out with the utmost respect hanging heavy in the air.
I felt shaken, and couldn’t stop thinking about you and the profound sacrifices you and your husband have made and continue to make on our behalf. Although the movie is deeply moving — and yes, sad — it contains a powerful message that continues to resonate with me. So would I have had it any other way? Not a chance.
The sacrifices you and your husband made have not been in vain. You made it possible for him to preserve and protect our freedom, and that freedom is not worth fighting for unless we understand that which has made it possible. We cannot fully appreciate the blanket of freedom we sleep under each night unless we know who provides it in the first place and why they work tirelessly to defend it. As Winston Churchill once said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many, to so few.”
We owe you and your family a debt of gratitude we can never repay. But we can show up to honor your husband and see a truly outstanding movie. Thank you for allowing your story to be told. Your unwavering dedication to your husband and your country will not be forgotten. On the contrary, the selfless example modeled by you and your family will be what countless Americans teach their children and grandchildren about for generations to come.
A grateful American
Find this letter syndicated on The Huffington Post here
Thanks for writing this.
Awe – thanks for thanking me 😉
My heart goes out to any woman that must suffer that pain. 🙁
Oh you and me both, Jennie!
Hello, I might not have much room to speak, but I am a single Veteran with no children, who may have had crossed paths somehow with Mr. Kyle. I just wanted to say that there are many of us that ave served throughout the years who made our sacrifices and commitments without hesitation and truly envisioned our service to be unquestionable. In fact, I might take it down right personal if they ever were. Not just for me, but those that have gone before me, and those that truly inspire people to be better, to be great, for whatever reason an individual can muster. The things that one can accomplish, aside from being housed and fed, on getting paid a dollar an hour are sometimes to great for most people to fathom and might be so overwhelmingly true in those moments in time to comprehend. But the fact of the matter is there never rally is much time to wonder or even second guess what we do in our daily lives except to understand that very point. To live right, to be right, and to know in certain company that those things that should not matter, but they do, and on no uncertain terms it should be a way to easily weed out those people who make it harder to live, or do your thing. “Good” people with no agenda are really genuinely overlooked, passed up, or poked and prodded until an actual”Agenda” is transparent. Although this “Agenda” May not be transcendent upon anything else, it is a sick way for those who would make it harder for people live to get under your skin. Just know that Chris has the love and respect of many, many people “Good” people, No matter how high or how low, not only do we understand and feel the sacrifices you and Mr. Kyle have made, but we all took oaths and believe that those sacrifices should be protected and honored at all times. Keep in mind everyone has their own individual experience while serving, and serving is not for everyone, but I just want you to know that for my part, my service to my Country and all that it encompasses was my greatest love, commitment, and honor at all times and you and your children, and your children’s children, on down the line will never be alone, and always in good company. If anything be asked of me having my full attention, I will never knowingly deny you or anyone else of certain distinction at least safe passage in life, but I might make it my personal mission to see it through no matter what it takes. Far be it from me to say so, but I have, and believe you me, there was a time when my actions ave spoken much louder than my words, and I am sure there is much other comforts in life that may be uncertain and I personally cannot guarantee them at the moment, but I hope in my current state of mind and well being I have not only said enough for you Mrs. Kyle, but for all those “Good” people out there, they know who they are. Thank you and your families, and especially Chris Kyle. Hooyah!!!!!!!!!! Hooyah!!!!!!!! Hooyah!!!!!!!!
Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for your enthusiasm! 😉
I saw your letter republished on the Huffington Post. I hope that Taya Kyle gets a chance to read it. Your thoughts speak for a lot of Americans who “get it.” Sacrificing one’s own comfort for the sake of others is what Jesus taught and you have reminded us…we all need reminders from time-to-time!
Thank you so much Tom! That means so much to read!
I find you next to me at #TellHisStory and I am almost struck silent. As I write today, I have tears in my eyes. I have been watching a series on Netflix about Vietnam told by veterans who served. Actual footage, much of it shot by those men as they fought.
How can I say thanks to the Kyles for their sacrifice? How can I say thanks to your family for yours? Words just seem inadequate.
Last night as my husband and I discussed this Vietnam documentary I said, “What makes this kind of hero? What is in them that will fight for others so willingly? Will hold a machine gun for 8 hours while injured to protect his injured battle buddies until help arrives?” Chris served, fought, sacrificed and gave. He died giving.
I am so very thankful.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NLT
Giving thanks with you! Thanks so much for stopping to share with me today!
I finally saw the movie last weekend. I knew it would be difficult but felt it was something I needed to see. I need to understand the sacrifices men and women make for me every day.
I love this letter!
That warms my heart! Thanks for sharing, Sarah!!
I give you all my support, my love and my passion from Paris, France. As Taya you’re a symbol of strenght and i wish all luck and happiness cause you deserve it more than any woman on this planet. May Chris’s name stay on top of America, Seals are heroes ! (sorry if my english isn’t good, i did my best)
i forgot to say that even though im French i love USA and what Chris did for the country and what each seals do every day is amazing and nobody talks about it enough
A 17 years old boy, sincerely touched by the American Sniper “the legend” stoy