Book Recommendation: American Sniper

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History is not a typical book recommendation that I would make on this blog, but in light of the Memorial Day weekend, I thought it was appropriate.  Chris Kyle, the author, was a Navy Seal known as the most lethal sniper in American military history with 160 confirmed kills.  He was shot and killed at a rifle range by another veteran that was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD; a Marine that Kyle was trying to help.

The content of the book is not completely unrelated to being a mom and a wife.  Woven throughout the pages of this book, Kyle's wife wrote from her own perspective what it was like to be family waiting stateside.  While the soldier, Marine, sailor, airman have their own demons to deal with while in combat, the wives that stay home and have to hold down the fort deal with their own struggles.  When my husband did his own combat tour, those seven months were some of the hardest for me.  Of course there is the stress of child rearing on your own, and taking care of things on your own, but that is the least of your worries.  The most pressing issue is constantly having to push the images out of your mind of two uniformed men knocking on your door.  Despite my trust in God and his goodness, I had to work hard at renewing my mind and keeping those thoughts from paralyzing me.

I enjoyed how candid the author and his wife were about the difficulties they faced as a couple.  Because of the stresses that military life puts on a marriage, it is no wonder that so many end up in divorce.  One of the hardest things I think for wives and girlfriends to accept is the "bond of brothers" that form between service members and their fellow buddies in combat.  As a wife, the only thing that you want your husband to put before you is God.  And yet, when that bond of brothers forms, there is no breaking it.  Kyle's wife couldn't understand why he kept wanting to go back.  Why he kept putting the military before her and the kids.  But Kyle couldn't enjoy life at home while his buddies were at war, while his buddies were dying.

It reminded me of the story of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba whom King David had killed.  David had pulled Uriah from combat and was trying to get him to go home to his wife to cover the fact that he has slept with Bathsheba and she was now pregnant.  However, Uriah couldn't go.  He didn't go.  He tells David in a nutshell, in II Samuel 11:11, that he couldn't enjoy the comforts of home while his brothers in arms were still at war.

Not to give the impression that this book is all about a military marriage, the book primarily details Kyle's service and the men around him.  This book is about war and all the ugly details that come along with it.  As a mother and a wife many things made me sick to my stomach, but it also made me proud.

It made me proud that there are my like Chris Kyle, men like my husband, who are willing to do the ugly things society requires of them so that the rest of us can enjoy the comforts of home.  It made me proud to see the efforts these men make to avoid civilian casualties, putting themselves in danger while doing so to protect the innocent and not so innocent.  War is not black and white.  It is grey and ugly.  It is a place where an enemy has little regard for innocence.  Where a mother's hatred of us transcends her instincts to protect her own children.  Where an enemy can put a child in the line of fire to protect their own skin.  Kyle makes no apologies for the people he killed and I would never expect him to.  Those of us who have never experience combat can never comprehend why he gladly did it.  I am just thankful he did.  Politics aside of whether we should be or should not be there, he protected his own, and I wouldn't want anything less.

Kyle may not have died while in combat, but the war still killed him.  This book is a reminder that our freedoms are not free.  On Memorial Day, I will remember Chris Kyle and all the other men and women that have died protecting this country.

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