I will be at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Monday, and I know I will take many of you with me in spirit.
But apparently not everybody.
The occasion will be the Texas memorial service for Chris Kyle, an American hero in every sense of the term. But if it is one battlefield where he earned his honor as our most prolific sniper, it is another battlefield that has sprouted since his death.
This arena is a war of words, sparked by the strong opinions of a variety of people on what Chris Kyle meant to our nation.
To me, he is a prime example of devotion to duty and service to country. I spoke with him on the “American Sniper” book tour, and he visited my church last year. He exuded both confidence and humility, and a strong obligation to God, country and family.
The family and country parts are often at odds for our most committed warriors. When they are at home in the role of husband and father, they are not on the battlefield doing what is necessary to kill the enemy. When they are engaged with the enemy, they are not at home where their beloved families need them.
This sacrifice only added to my admiration for Chris. When I heard of his murder at a gun range 90 minutes from my house last weekend, my heart sank.
The irony was searing. Here was a man who walked into countless lines of fire, taking out the enemy in scores of perilous war zones, only to die back here at home, helping a fellow veteran.
I have a feeling I will have a lot of company at that Monday memorial service. The outpouring of love and remembrance in the week since his death has been deeply moving.
But it has also had another effect. It has brought out the worst in souls from various corners who have allowed their disdain for our war to consume their basic human decency.
Since Chris and his fellow troops fight for our freedoms every day, it is fitting that freedom of speech is in full throat on his Facebook page, where updates about his memorial service mingle with casual posts he left before his murder.
One features an image of a soldier manning a massive piece of artillery. Above the image it says: “Mayor Michael Bloomberg says 19-year-olds aren’t responsible enough to have a pistol or rifle.”
Below the image: “He obviously forgets who protects his rich pansy---” well, you get it. Chris obviously enjoyed some vigorous give and take on issues of liberty and what it takes to maintain it.
And in the comments beneath the post, you can find the harmonious approval of many who loved Chris when he was here and who honor him now.
And the two cents of some who feel differently.