By Kevin Lair
Senior Elm Writer
Yet again, Clint Eastwood brings a harrowing story of family, courage, and patriotism to the big screen. Based on his autobiographical book, “American Sniper” portrays the life of US Navy Seal Chris Kyle who is considered the deadliest marksman in US military history. Actor Bradley Cooper skillfully plays the role of Kyle, vividly displaying how war continues to wage in the minds and lives of America’s brave service members on and off the battlefield.
Eastwood is an actor and director well-known for his focus on the life of soldiers rather than their battles. Evident throughout the two-hour film is an understanding and appreciation of not only the sacrifices our brave men and women make in combat but also of the trials they face when they return home. Cooper adeptly depicts the unyielding devotion of soldiers for the country they love, the difficult kill-or-be-killed decisions they have to make, and the heavy toll that war takes on them.
Despite the media-hype from Hollywood elitists who bash the film and its protagonist, viewers understand that this tale is far from glorifying war. In stark contrast, the film highlights the terrifying decisions that have to be made on the battlefield, and the tumultuous path that defines the transition from the battlefield to home. In staying true to his autobiography, the film shows how difficult it was for Kyle to return home as war waged on without him yet always raging in his mind. This is a horrifying ordeal felt by many of service members who try to adapt back to civilian life while subject to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
Hence, this film reignites the need to provide soldiers not just on the battlefield but also in the complex lives they live afterwards. While we have a plethora of programs devoted to providing for our soldiers, there is much more that needs to be done to ensure that soldiers are able to return home from the brutality of war without having to live a lifetime of pain. This includes ensuring that Department of Veteran Affairs provides first-class medical and support services for our veterans and their families. War is fought not just by the man or woman in uniform, but by their families and friends, too.
There were at least two main takeaways from the film. First, viewers are left with an undeniable sense of gratitude for the brave men and women who find it to be their solemn duty to defend our homeland and fight for freedom around the world. Gratitude for brave people like Kyle who put their own lives and interests on pause to go answer the call of freedom half-way around the world. We must never forget the sacrifices they make so that we can live in the greatest nation on Earth.
The second conclusion we are left with is that we live in a country where there will always be brave individuals willing to sacrifice their life in the name of their country. For a country with the freedom to practice whatever religion one chooses and the right not to practice any religion, the freedom to democratically elect leaders and hold them accountable, and the freedom to live your life knowing that you are safe, secure, and free to live a life of your choosing. And yes, even the freedom to make a Hollywood living off of criticizing and bashing others, including the soldiers who gave you that right.
While many films are made simply for our enjoyment, “American Sniper” tells a true-life story of an American hero and the struggles he faced. I am thankful for all of our service members and for the people who bring their stories to us. Let us never forget the sacrifices made by our brave men and women in uniform, and may we always award them the honor and respect that they deserve.