Yesterday, RF asked the question, “Where is Chris Kyle’s headstone?” After the comments got particularly nasty, the entire thread was pulled and I’m glad it was. But I’m also glad TTAG asked the queston, because Chris Kyle deserves a headstone. In truth though, I should have been the one to write the article, and ask the question. I visit Chris’s grave site about once a week, and I have since just after he died. It’s close to my office and for the first year after he was murdered, it was pretty rare that I saw anyone else there. That’s normal, that was OK . . .
On special occasions I would see people — Veterans Day, Memorial Day, the first anniversary of his death — and almost all of the time that I would visit, there would be some kind of flowers and usually some empty brass laying there as well. I would regulary send photos of those gifts to some of his other friends and brothers in arms. I hope it gave them some joy and peace to know that Chris was being remembered. They usually said that it did.
After the first year though, I wondered when he would get a headstone, and more and more of those same friends asked that question.
Then the movie came out. And now there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t see someone else there at the grave site. This year, at the second anniversary of his death, there was literally a line to his grave. And that is more than OK, that is outstanding. That is the display of a grateful nation honoring one of its sons. And I hope that outpouring of caring gives the entire Kyle family some comfort.
But the question that I overheard — and RF was there this year to hear it, too — was “Where is his headstone?” After Two years, it’s the question I’m asking as well.
Chris’ grave site isn’t private and his memorial was anything but. Heck, the service was held in the Dallas Cowboys’ statium, and he deserved that. He had an epic funeral procession that shut down Interstate 35 from Dallas to Austin, and would have been envied by the greatest Viking chief and he damn sure deserved that as well.
He wasn’t buried in a quiet, secluded private lot. He was burried on public land in the most honored place that the state of Texas can provide, the Texas State Cemetery, and he deserved every bit of that too. And he deserves a headstone.
I’ve seen quite a few service members both old and young at Chris’ site. In talking to some of them, they go there for much the same reason I do. To say thank you. There are a few of us who know the aegis of security that sniper overwatch provides. Chris gave that care to the soldiers, sailors, and marines he was tasked to provide security for, and for some of us, he still provides that today.
I think that is what provides comfort to so many of the people that go there to visit him. But they, like me, are troubled by the lack of what seems like a proper memorial for such a man, a man who firmly belived it was his responsibity to protect the lives of his countrymen, and sacrificed to carry out that responsiblity.
There are many reasons that the family may have chosen to not put up a headstone yet. Some people have discounted that the issue may be financial, thinking that Taya Kyle is somehow rolling in cash. I have no evidence to support that notion. Chris was not a wealthy man, not by any means, and didn’t leave his wife and kids sitting on a nest egg. Not only that, but Governor Jesse Ventura was awarded a very sizeable amount of money in his lawsuit against the Kyle estate. So it may be that the family lacks the funds to provide what they feel would be an appropriate marker. And if that is the case, I hope this web site and this post would help with that need.
Another reason that some have proposed is the fear of vandalism. It would be so shameful for our nation that something like that would ever could happen, and I admit I had not thought of it until it was mentioned here. However, vandals could deface his grave now, and have not. Also, the gravesite is behind a high fence, a wall, and is guarded by the Texas Department of Public Safety. And if anyone were foolish enough to deface Chris’s grave, they had might as well dig their own. I’ll loan them a tractor to do it.
Finally, his headstone may just not be there out of the family’s sorrow. I can certainly understand that, I think anyone can. But every week people go to see him to pay thier respects. I think we use that phrase, “to pay respects” often, but I really see that when people go to see Chris. The last time I was there, a man had driven from Indiana to see his grave and was surprised to find that a temporary marker was all that was there.
I know that Chris is gone, everyone visiting him knows that. But right now, what is left there is a small temporary marker, with his name and his picture, fading more and more every day. I am afraid our nation’s memory of Chris will fade along with it, and all that people will remember is Bradley Cooper and a movie.
If it is out of need that the Kyle family can not put up a deserving marker, I will certainly volunteer my money to help. I would hope that many others in our nation would do the same.
If it is out of fear, I would hope that Texas can guard our hero at least as well as he guarded us.
If it is out of sorrow, I would hope that the Kyle family takes comfort in the people who visit him out of duty, respect, and love.