On Memorial Day I heard an interview with a man who had written a story about the most lethal sniper in America. As a peace activist I tend to avoid listening to these kinds of stories but yesterday, thinking about the sacrifices military men and women make for our country, I decided to sit and listen and I was richly rewarded.
Chris Kyle was a Navy Seal who was credited with killing more than 100 people during his military service. But arguably the most important work he undertook was in his civilian life working with veterans who had experienced post traumatic stress disorder. Nicholas Schmidle, a staff writer for the New Yorker, wrote a story about Chris Kyle including the tragic ending in which he was shot by a deeply troubled vet he was trying to assist.
Listening to the story about Chris Kyle was part of my attempt to understand the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I also watched Democracy Now rebroadcast their story from last year’s veterans protest in Chicago outside the NATO meeting. I saw veterans ashamed of their military service returning their medals to the United States government. There was a powerful testimony from a mother whose son had killed himself on an American military base who was angry that the government had told the world he had died in combat. And I heard a song Hero of War about the horrors our government has told young men like Chris Kyle to inflict during our long occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These stories are relevant during the ongoing debate over how much America needs to be involved in the destruction taking place in Syria. I hear about formerly middle class families sleeping in half bombed out buildings after fleeing their homes. I ponder questions of right and wrong, the President’s moral authority and whether and when solving our own problems at home will ever become important.
What are we really aiming at when we send snipers out? Who is the ultimate target of our drone attacks? When will we decide that the body count is high enough for us to be able to ceasefire? I urge my readers to ask yourselves these questions while you look into these stories that I have discussed.
- Tragic Result: Sniper Tries To Help Troubled Veteran (npr.org)
- Nicholas Schmidle: Chris Kyle’s tragic quest to help troubled veterans. (newyorker.com)