#22. American Sniper

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

13 - 1

Disclaimer:  I have not seen this movie nor have I read the book.

It appears there is discussion about the movie American Sniper.  People weighing in if he was or was not a hero or coward.  I don’t know.  So I am going to weigh in as well.  Seeing that everyone who reads this knows I was in the Navy I don’t really need to dive into that more, but if you’re new I served on a submarine for four years.  Get that out of the way.

Here is my first statement.  Not everyone who serves in the military is a hero.  There were plenty of us bubbleheads who were not anywhere near what I would consider hero status.  I know one of the people who read this served with me and I know he would agree that our time on the boat did not make us “heroes”.  I am not saying we didn’t do important work, but I don’t think it was hero work.   The majority of the people in the military never face the enemy.  Never are put in war zones.  Never fire a gun, or at least not at an enemy.  So this idea, that all of us are heroes, is hard for me to swallow.

Second.  I don’t believe the military is what preserves our freedoms.  We people of the United States preserve our freedoms, or at least that is how it is supposed to be.  Do most people really believe we are about to be invaded and taken over?  Do people really believe that Joe Marine is what is standing between us and being overrun?  The problem is that even these wars, and yes even after 911 our freedom wasn’t threatened.  They were not in going to knock on our door and make us bow down to Islam.  The truth of the matter is that the military simply enforces policy.  That is what they, or we do.  When I hear that they are preserving our freedom I just roll my eyes.

Third.  I am not sure I care what other people think about this sniper guy.  There are always going to be supporters and there is always going to be non-supporters, and that is ok.  That is actually one of the things that make this country great.  We don’t all have to agree.  This is what I will say about this guy.  From what I know about snipers it is one of the most difficult things to do.  I am not talking skill wise, but that is impressive.  I am talking mentally.  Most guys are the field in a firefight might see the person they shot go down, might not.  But a sniper sees up close and personal what their bullet did to that person.  They see their head explode.  For me, that is not something to be taken lightly.  Does that make him a hero? I don’t know.  Does that make him a coward?  I don’t know, but I tend to think not.  I do think it takes a special person to  mentally take on what this requires.  I do think we need to understand that it can’t be easy do what they do.  He is dead.  How he died is tragic and unfortunate.  It is also truly unfortunate that his widow has to live that again because people need the spotlight to broadcast their opinion.  If you think the movie sucks, then say it sucks. Is it necessary to say he is a coward for doing something that most people would not be able to do, or handle?  Leave him be.  So maybe I do care what people think about this sniper guy.

All of this being said there is nothing I am more proud of than my time in the Navy and serving on the USS Dallas.  I am honored to be part of the submarine fraternity.  I think what all of the men and women in the military do is important work.  Important to the country, but they are not the end all be all.  They are flawed like the rest of us.  The local hockey club, Avalanche, like to point out a military guy in the crowd during the game.  People stand, people applaud.  It is very nice, maybe even touching for some.  Me being the cynic that I am I wonder, what do we really know about this guy?  Are we applauding him simply because he served?  What if he killed babies? But no one knows that. Would we be applauding him?  That is the thing we really never truly know what they have done with their time and service.  I believe we should thank people for their service, but maybe we shouldn’t canonize them because do we really know?

  1. Shawn says:

    When I was sub school ( I’ve probably told you this story)… I was walking through the mall in Mass with a buddy in our dress whites. We walked by a mother and her young child. The uniforms caught the kid’s eye and he asked his mother “Who are those guys?” She replied “They’re nobody.”

    Boy has the perception and military celebration climate/culture changed. I guess its a good thing but your cynical sense is dialed in. I feel the same way at time. If I’m telling you a story about how I painted my toe nails red with a sharpie and then almost died when a hatch hit my head (little hyperbole but work with me here..) and the only thing that kept me hanging on was the mental though of “will not die with red toe nails” you don’t have to thank me for my service. I just want to tell you the story.

    I had a GF in college that would make the sign of the cross whenever an ambulance went by with it’s lights on. I use to ask her “How do you know that’s not a pedophile or a rapist in there.?”

    While I’m ranting here… I was reading on a government benefit site and a commented was complaining that “vets shouldn’t have to pay for the GI Bill and man do they scam you by taking that $100 every month that first year.” Seriously, have you ever had a better ROI than the GI Bill? 3 check s into it I got my money back and then some.

    Like you, I haven’t seen the movie or know enough about Kyle’s situation to make a solid call. His death was tragic as he was trying to help someone he could probably really relate to.

    All I know I’m thankful these stolen valor guys weren’t around when I was trying to pickup women in sub school but telling them I was on Seal Team Six.

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