BY LUKE WATHEN
Veteran’s Day: A day where the people of the United States celebrate the men and women of the armed services. Civilians, young and old, are willing to set aside their differences for a time in order to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of their nation.
Salisbury University was no exception, opting to host a viewing of the movie American Sniper: the semi-biographical film that turned Chris Kyle from a celebrity into an idol almost overnight.
While the showing of the movie was done with good intentions and Kyle’s contributions to the military are not to be taken lightly, this might not have been the best film to show for the occasion.
Director Clint Eastwood has said that he intended the film to be a representation of the struggles veterans face when returning home from war.
“The biggest antiwar statement any film (can make is to show) the fact of what (war) does to the family and the people who have to go back into civilian life like Chris Kyle did,” Eastwood said at a pre-award banquet.
While this is no doubt a noble intention, using Chris Kyle as a real world example paints a slanted portrayal of the titular “American Sniper.”
In reality, Kyle had a notorious habit of weaving elaborate tales that were often more fiction than fact.
In his memoir on which the film was based, Kyle makes bold claims about a bar-brawl with former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura that never occurred (Ventura later won a defamation lawsuit against Kyle), his assertion that he killed two men for attempting to steal his truck (also proven false) and his claims that he used his sniping prowess to kill looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (again, no evidence supports this claim).
Despite this habit of dishonesty, Kyle is still regarded as an American hero due in no small part to the film American Sniper.
With no intention of tarnishing Chris Kyle’s military record nor judgment against him for the kills that he made during his service, it is simply his track record of almost pathological dishonesty that makes him stand out as less than stellar.
So while Salisbury University’s use of the film American Sniper was certainly an admirable effort to showcase the horrors of war and the dedication of veterans, it was not the best movie that they could have picked.
Alternatively, either the film “Saving Private Ryan” or “The Hurt Locker” would have been a much better replacement. Both films showcase the turbulence of the battlefield as well as the physical and mental anguish suffered by soldiers. Even better, they do so without glorifying a divisive figure.
I have nothing but respect for our nation’s veterans and certainly feel that the art of film can give us who have never served a small glimpse at the suffering they endured for our benefit. In addition, I commend the University for taking advantage of Veteran’s Day to host such an event, in the future I just feel that they can use a more worthwhile film.