Governor Abbott names February 2 'Chris Kyle Day' in Texas

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Texas is paying homage to Chris Kyle, the nation's most lethal sniper. He was killed on this day two years ago while trying to help a veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

His story is told in the bestselling book and movie American "Sniper". The film has earned about 250 million dollars at the box office. It's success has brought with it both incredible admiration afforded a battlefield patriot and the criticism given a man who talked openly about killing 160 people in war. But that story tells a much wider tale of what it means to be a warrior.

Former Marine and Houstonian Jeremy Williams served three tours in Iraq.

"Chris Kyle's story isn't just Chris Kyle's story," he told Eyewitness News. "It's the American warrior story."

Williams said being a warrior -- protecting and sacrificing -- comes with a price. He now helps other veterans cope through his work at the U.S. Veterans Initiative.

"It's not just something you can turn the lights switch off and walk out of the room," he explained. "The light stays on. The door stays open."

That sacrifice was honored in Austin today. Governor Greg Abbott named February 2 Chris Kyle Day in Texas, exactly two years after the Navy Seal was shot and killed at a North Texas gun range while trying to help a fellow veteran coping with PTSD. Kyle's 2013 funeral procession stretched from Austin to Dallas.

"As Chris himself would tell you," said Governor Abbott as he signed the proclamation, "he's one of a band of brothers and sisters...comrades in arms for the greatest country in the history of the world."

Scott McEwen is the coauthor of Kyle's bestselling memoir turned blockbuster movie. We spoke with him Monday from his California home.

"I was really happy to see Greg Abbott, your governor in Texas, declare this Chris Kyle Day," said McEwen. "I think it's a very appropriate time."

When asked what he thought about the criticism of Kyle's actions during war, McEwen said it is unwarranted.

"Chris Kyle is exactly the epitome of an American patriot, of a hero, of a man that put his life on the line," he explained. "I would suggest that the criticism, particularly that which I've seen from the Hollywood types is not only disingenuous but also reflective of the self-loathing that we've seen from Hollywood over the years."

The trial for Kyle's alleged killer, Eddie Ray Routh, is set to begin next week in Stephenville, Texas. Prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty.
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