American Sniper: Good and Terrible


I watched American Sniper last week (I read the book last year).

It was a great movie.

It was also a terrible movie.

It was great because it told the story of a great father, warrior, and patriot who did what he thought was the best he could in the service of our nation. It was great because explosions, loud sound effects, and “get some” fight scenes are my cup of tea…and by tea I mean strong drink ; ) It was great because far too many Americans are so wrapped up in their manufactured sense of entitlement and social media induced outrage that they forget men like Chris Kyle, who epitomize selflessness.

However, for me, American Sniper was also a terrible movie. From the opening “call to prayer,” to the final scene and all of the pain in between, this movie messed me up. It opened wounds of bitterness and heartbreak for me. I gave a year of my life in Iraq. Many paid a much higher price. I’ve been home for 10 years and American Sniper made me feel like I just got home last month. Okay, a lot of things make me feel like I just got back. I would be lying if I said I still don’t wrestle with the “Why” of that war. Death sucks. Deployments suck. The moral conflict that our warriors deal with is insane. The families left behind in the wake of war bear a burden most would not wish on their worst enemies. American Sniper was a terrible movie because it reminded me of the terrible experience that is war. The movie didn’t make me want to celebrate ‘Murica; it made me want to weep for my friends and neighbors who live with the baggage of 14 years of non-stop war.

Don’t get it twisted, I love my country. Those of you who know me personally know that I will always be a soldier and a sheepdog. I’ve quite literally dedicated my entire life to serving our nation’s warriors. I am proud of my combat patch and I’ll wear it with pride until the day that I die. However, I just don’t get how anyone who has witnessed even a glimpse of war could watch American Sniper and leave the theater feeling good. The movie is a textbook tragedy in every sense of the word.

I left the theater determined to continue to serve and support our active duty and veteran communities. I left with a passion to pray for the warriors who do bad things to bad people so that you and I can binge watch Netflix and blog our opinions. I left with a prayer on my heart that I do not pray enough…”Come Lord Jesus.”

American Sniper is a good movie about a terrible story. It’s terrible that it takes a movie to remind us of the millions of good men and women who’ve risked it all for our country.

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