2.17.2013

Thoughts on the Support of the Public Since Chris Kyle's Death

On February 2, Eddie Ray Routh seriously shook my faith. In the moments and hours after my husband led me quickly away from a friend's birthday celebration and into the street to whisper the shocking news, I seriously questioned what possible meaning such a senseless and cruel act of violence could have. As we struggled through the next few days, my husband's endless phone calls and quiet grief, I bitterly condemned what seemed to be a complete lack of humanity.

When I was very young, maybe 6 or 7, I was pulled out by an undertow while playing at the beach. My siblings and I struggled to get back to shore, ignoring the advice we'd had drilled into our heads over and over: swin parallel to the shore and get out of the current. My oldest sister grabbed my younger brother and got him in, leaving my other sister and I to keep our heads above water on our own. In reality, it was probably only a couple of minutes before the lifeguard reached us, grabbing each of us up under one arm and carrying us solidly back to safety. To me, it felt like I'd survived an eternity of struggling for my life. I'll never forget the fear I felt as I swam as hard as I could toward the shore, only to see it receding nonetheless. I'll never forget watching my sister struggle, either, knowing that we shared the predicament, yet fought singularly for survival. At that moment, we each may as well have been alone, because we could not help each other.

I watched my husband with the same helpless feeling - we struggled independently, our grief in different shades. He bears a heavier burden, having already lost so much, and having loved Chris so dearly. I was drowning again, in my inability to comfort him. I watched him fight the current and knew, no matter how great my desire to save him, I could not pull him out. I felt a deep fear once again, as I watched him struggle and wondered if it would change him. The bitterness surged like a riptide, drawing us deeper and deeper into the cold depths of shock, disbelief, anger, and sadness.

It hasn't been an easy couple of weeks. Certainly, I question the place on the Earth for men like Eddie Ray Routh. I wonder how this could have happened, and why. I don't even care for the answers - they can't bring Chris and Chad back, or fix the hearts broken by their absence. I feel compelled to admit, however, that I cannot assert there is no humanity left in this world. The literally thousands of people from whom I witnessed an outpouring of love, support, and sympathy in the weeks since February 2nd disprove the notion. I stand firm in my belief that there is good in this world, despite an awful presence of evil.

Our first thoughts were to get to Texas, and immediately. As the dust settled, we began to think more carefully - How long could we be gone? Could we afford the plane tickets? How would we pay for the rest of the trip? My husband is a PA student and we survive on his VA benefits. Although we would have spent the thousands to be in Dallas if we had to, it would have certainly been paid for out of our savings.

Fortunately, we were the beneficiaries of immense generosity. I posted one note on Facebook about needing to get to Dallas and was bombarded by messages from friends and strangers alike, offering everything from buddy passes on various airlines, to connections with travel agents, to frequent flyer miles and simple cash. It was so touching that so many wanted to share what they had with us, it was almost overwhelming. Air Compassion for Veterans and American Airlines paid for our plane tickets in full, and took amazing care of us. When we arrived at Piedmont Triad International Airport, the clerk at the American ticket counter expressed his condolences, explained he'd been expecting us, and put priority tags on our bags, for which the fees were waived. Our captain requested we be boarded first, which was incredibly convenient since we travelled with a 2 1/2 year old. Not only were our tickets taken care of, the representative from American Airlines' Military Affairs office changed our reservations three times as our plans continuously changed, the last time only a few hours before our departure from Austin after Chris' burial. We were not hassled, charged fees, or even made to feel responsible for our plans. They simply helped us.

We weren't the only ones, either. There were several individuals who received tickets in the same way, and Southwest Airlines accommodated dozens of military personnel who flew in from San Diego. It was amazing to see such large airlines, organizations that we normally view as so stingy, be so completely generous. We are very grateful.

We booked a rental car and received word that it would be covered by donations taken up by a friend in Connecticut. Once again, people who we have never even met were eager to share whatever they had so that my husband could grieve with his teammates and be there in support of Chris' family.

The Midlothian Law Enforcement Agency provided hotel rooms for literally hundreds of guests that travelled into Midlothian for the memorial and funeral. I believe that the extent to which all of these people went to help Chris' friends and family speaks volumes about the type of man he was.

All throughout the week leading up to the services, people continued to commit acts of generosity. Fellowship Church sent enough food to feed a small army to the house every night. Nolan Ryan sent steaks and a team to barbeque for us. A tour bus was donated by a band for the use of anyone who might need a bunk to crash in or a quiet place to reflect. The police officers assigned to the Kyle household, 24 hours a day, kept constant and vigilant watch.

In times of tragedy, it seemed to me I was always the one sending "thoughts and prayers to loved ones." It was a startling moment when I realized every time I heard or read again, "My thoughts and prayers go out to the Kyle and Littlefield familes, and their friends and loved ones," that those prayers were for us. Thousands of people across the country and even the world wanted to comfort us. It doesn't change the situation, but it does provide a little comfort. I hope that Chris and Chad's families feel it, too. I received messages from friends who live in other countries expressing condolences - they had seen my husband on the news, serving as pall bearer. It amazed me that even outside our nation people mourned Chris - a notion that was reinforced by the wreath and letter presented from the Polish GROM, among others, at Chris' funeral.

Maybe I should have expected it after the week of support from the public, but I was again amazed on Monday when we drove in a procession to Cowboys stadium. The motorcade was escorted by police, but it seemed to me they weren't even needed. Even cars on the other side of the highway, across the median, pulled over until we had passed. Everywhere I turned, strangers paid their respects to a hero.

The memorial was incredible. The use of the stadium was donated by the Cowboys - it included security, set up, food, everything. Close friends, teammates, and a few others attended a reception before the service. Sarah and Todd Palin, Dean Cain, and Grady Powell were there - unassuming and without fanfare - simply to pay their respects. Numerous politicans and dignitaries were also present, though none drew attention to themselves, as it was clear what this day was about. We were seated on the field and Troy Aikman came and sat in our row. I had to smile to myself as I was once again so impressed with the sheer scale of the memorial, and its singular focus on Chris. Celebrities who attended blended into the crowd. It was really about Chris, nothing else. The service was touching and heartbreaking, and when I walked the aisle to reenter the building under the stands and I looked up at the 10,000 odd onlookers, my eyes once again filled with tears. These people didn't know Chris, yet there they were, standing solemnly, many crying, in love and support for his family and friends.

The most amazing part of the entire week was the procession from Midlothian to Austin on Tuesday morning. For nearly 4 hours, we drove in relative silence. Each of us in the car was captivated by the thousands of people who lined the highway for the entire trip. I honestly don't believe we passed a single overpass where there wasn't a fire truck or utility truck and people holding American flags and signs. Along the side of the highway itself were endless streams of people, many of whom stood in the rain. I saw people crying, uniformed military personnel who stood at salute for what must have taken ten minutes for the motorcade to pass, parents holding small children, and school children whose teachers brought them out to pay respects. As sad a day as it was, I have never been more proud to be American as when observing the most awesome display of patriotism, respect, and honor I've ever had the privilege of being a part of.





Once we arrived at Texas State Cemetery, we were greeted by the hundreds of Patiot Guard who had accompanied the procession. They lined the streets immediately outside the cemetery and its inside perimiter with American flags. They provided the perfect backdrop for the send off we gave Chris.

The service was harrowing and beautiful. Everyone in attendance remained completely silent as the more than one hundred SEALs, past and present, hammered their tridents into Chris' casket. The only sound was the heavy "thump" of a fist on wood, each man paying homage to and leaving a piece of himself with Chris. I had heard and read about these funerals, but never attended one. It's an experience I will never forget and hope I will never have to repeat. As the service concluded, the SEALs took their knees and placed their hands on each others' shoulders, heads bowed. Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes and tears fell quietly. At the song's conclusion, a resounding "Hooyah, Chris Kyle!" boomed from the kneeling men, and a final farewell was bid to a warrior.



I wish we never had to make the trip to Dallas, but I can honestly say it restored much of my faith in humanity. The tremendous public support during such a trying time showed me that, though one man may be evil, he cannot conquer the spirit of a good and free people. We appreciate your love, thoughts, prayers, and support. They have been, in large part, the lifeguard whose solid grip has grasped us both, pulling us safely to shore.


45 comments:

Angel Junior, Orion and Sammy said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. I have prayed and mourned along with you, even though I never met Chris or Chad or any of their family. I have had to honor of volunteering at the UDT-SEAL Museum in Florida and have met some of these amazing men.

You have my thanks for your husbands, and your, service to our country. You all have my prayers, still, as grief does not leave quickly.

Sincerely,
Rhonda

Will Peck said...

I believe there are none more important to honor and support than America's warrior heroes. Though I never had the privilege of knowing him personally, CPO Kyle was clearly among the best. Reverence for his memory, and for Chad Littlefield's, as well as prayers for their loved ones will absolutely continue.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

Michel nast said...

I was at one of the most surreal spots of the procession. I witnessed HUMANITY on a grand scale, I thank god I was able to capture that moment forever, The experience has not only changed me & the way I think, It has forever broken my heart... mainly for the reason of "why?" did this have to happen??

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to attend the services. I am from the Men of War MC. We are an all Veteran's MC, Most of us were operators ourselves, losing one of our own is tragic to everyone, especially to a man, husband, father and brother that was attempting to help one of our own. Two of us rode in from Jacksonville, FL, 2300 miles round trip, every mile was worth it. I agree, the patriotism was outstanding, it def makes you remember that we are great country with outstanding Americans.

Cury

Jess Dunn said...

Thank you for writing this. I never had the opportunity to meet Chris, but I know without a doubt, he is a hero and a true inspiration. I cried when I heard of his death and I still cry. I still continue to pray for his family and friends.
I know as an American and a USN veteran, I'm beyond honored to know that such a patriotic, caring, man served this Nation during war and continued to do so after he got out of the Navy.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow North Carolinian, and a major supporter of True Patriots, I want to thank you for posting this tribute to a fallen hero. My heart and prayers go out to your family and all others affected by this tragedy.

Doug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug said...

Thanks to your husband for serving and thanks to you for sharing such a painful time. We stand with you...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience and words! I did not know Chris Kyle the SEAL, I knew Chris Kyle..family man, neighbor and baseball coach. He helped coach my sons t-ball team and was a wonderful with the kids, very patient! He and Chad will be greatly missed! Living in Midlothian during an awful time like this has also restored some of my faith in humanity. It has been amazing to see so much support for both families. I continue to pray for those that are hurting from this tragedy.
I would like to thank your husband for his service to this country!

Anonymous said...

Please know that while you may not have seen us line the roads or attend the ceremony and funeral, we were there in spirit. Thousands of us. We prayed, cried, and flew our flags ( Texas and United States) and ask God our Father for comfort for the family and friends. We are eternally thankful for the selfless service Chris, your husband and the others who serve give and gave to our nation. Thank you for your insight to your journey to lay a friend and honorable soldier to rest. God bless you all and comfort you as only He can in the days, months and years ahead.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post. I can't deny how touching that was. I'm not an american, I was born in Brazil and immigrated to US eight years ago but I have to say that this is the most amazing thing about your country to me. How so many men and women are willing to give up their own life for their country, for your freedom. Even if I'm not an american I like to salute and show my respect to them. Just like Chris and many others I still believe in honor, respect and love as a way of living.

I wish I could have been there to show my respect to such an amazing human being and american hero.

RIP Chief, keep on looking out for your loved country and people from above.

Hooyah!

Sincerely,
Francis Andrade.

Ralph said...

A hero has pasted from our mist, may he rest in peace. Thank you for sharing you thoughts and feelings. God Bless America and all those who serve HER.

Dianne said...

Your words bear a powerful message. Thank you for so beautifully portraying the man he was, and the faith that will help his loved ones. You have reminded us of the best of our country. My thanks to you and to your husband for his service.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and so true. Only correction- many of us 10,000 in the stands that day did know and love Chris personally. Just because we werent allowed on the field doesn't mean we didn't know and love him. MHS had a special section there and we all have our stories. Many of us seeing him many times since he came home. The pain is great. But being a part of it all with him was greater.

Anonymous said...

Eloquently put. Thank you so much for sharing. I will never forget seeing and hearing Taya as she mourned her husband. Her words and strength were truly an inspiration. My husband worked with her prior to them moving to Texas. He loved Taya and Chris and was so honored to know them. I have been praying for all you daily and will continue to do so in honor of a true American hero.

Jonathan Clay said...

This has brought the tears back again, I met (Then Petty Officer) Kyle briefly, but I met Chris Kyle seperately. He impacted me from the simple statement. I was at the memorial, and while touching it's good to hear it from a direct friend of the Family that WE, my fellow Texans and Americans, helped. I remember when the message came across asking about if I had heard anything about the shooting. I am part of a small 2nd amendment group and fundraising group for the families of fallen warriors. I was in shock, more so when I confirmed and passed the word to others that knew Chris in various ways. I wrote my own tribute, my own thoughts. I have no idea if this is a comfort to anyone but I share it here.

I continue, and I urge all to continue, to pray for these families and these men who served with Chris Kyle, their fight is not over, their pain is still fresh.

Semper Fi
Jonathan "Dragon" Clay

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. My heart has been so heavy and this whole tragic situation hasn't been far from my mind or prayers at any point. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your acknowledgment of prayers and support. God Bless you. Thank you for your family's service to our great country as we know it is not only a singular person who serves but an entire family.

David said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I wish I could've seen this in person, but the way you described it made me feel as if I was there.

God Bless

Anonymous said...

Your letter was awesome and inpsiring.I was not there in person.but watching the news that evining showed me no matter what's going on people took time to show respect to a veteran.this is an important lesson to teach our children.especially in these trying times.god bless all veterans. And the families,friends that support them.

Adrienne said...

This has to be the most moving tribute to Chis Kyle. Thank you for you beautiful words. Although I was not able to be present, I was there in spirit.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this touching story. I watched Chris on SES, and have been reading his book. I'm in tears as I read this, only because it does clearly show the true spirit of good American people of their respect of known and unknown heroes. Again, thank you for sharing his difficult but beautiful memory.

Anonymous said...

I had never met Chris or his family, I had read his book and followed him on facebook. I wrote a review of his book every chance I got. I wrote him a note on facebook telling him that though I would never truly know the sacrifice he and his family made for our country, I felt through him I was able to get a glimpse of what a true American Hero and his family looks like. He replied to me with a simple "thank you ma'am". My husband was out of town the weekend Chris was killed but on Sunday Morning he called me to tell me what had happened. He woke me out of a dead sleep and I could not really grasp what he was saying. He knew how I felt about Chris and his family, (which really was ridiculous because I did not know them), at some level I related to them (that will always remain a mystery to me). When I hung up I simply sobbed, knowing that no one that I knew would truly understand what or why I was feeling so sad I held it in from that time on, until I watched Taya speak at his funeral and then again while reading your article. Thank you for sharing. I could not be one of those people paying their respects in the stands or along the road. So thank you for detailing what it was like and how much your faith was restored. The ache that has resided in my heart since that day has definitely lessened. I want to believe in the good in people and your article helped put things in perspective.

Achmed Fubar said...

Wow, once again you bring back the flood of emotion. Thank you for sharing and painting an awesome picture of the events. My Son and I attended the memorial, but couldn't make the burial on Tues. This past Sunday my family and I traveled to Austin to say goodbye properly. It was odd to find Chris there by himself in his own section. The wreaths were still there with notes and trinkets on the ground. I placed a Punisher sticker among the flowers. My final Hooyah to Chris. Much love to the Kyle and Littlefield families. God bless and hold you all. Later, Achmed Fubar.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your personal experience. My family watched the memorial service and we mourned watching the grief from family and friends. We pray for healing for his family and friends. I can't thank you enough for loving and standing by a warrior. The life has to be difficult. Thank your husband's service in keeping my family free while we live our daily lives. Please tell his brothers in arms, we have great respect for what they do. God Bless You.

Mav said...

Safely rest.

Christopher Downie said...

Name a US Naval Vessel in Honor of US Navy Seal #ChrisKyle #FinalFarewell Please sign this petition & RT http://t.co/aTvY1kYrOM

Lindy Conner said...

Thank you so much for your story. I have read this one and part 2 like 3xs now :""""") Iam a huge fan and supporter of Chris Kyles and am very saddened that he's gone. Im still in disbelief. I cannot begin to imagine what his wife and children are going through. The family's of both men have so much love and support from thousands of people. I have shed tears and still feel heart ache over the whole thing! Your story makes me smile Everytime I read it knowing things are being handled the way chris would have wanted it to be. He was so casting and wanting the vets taken care of. Now ur was his turn. And it was done with such gratitude and honor from the public. Iam proud to be an American and thank Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield for everything!!! :""") much love to both families from Richwood,Ohio!!!! XOXO

Dennis D said...

I was honored to have met Chris and his wife, Taya, and also attended the memorial service and funeral. I would never have guessed that such a quiet, humble man was also a great American patriot. I have been told that over 250 thousand people lined the interstate from Dallas to Austin, but I believe that’s only a fraction of the people who felt the pain of the loss of Chris and Chad. Most of us will always remember Chris as a gallant warrior watching over his military brothers.
Feherty’s Troop First Foundation and I will be building residential housing for our returning wounded warriors and their families while they recuperate at Walter Reed - Bethesda Hospital. Chris Kyle is now doing what he did best, OVERWATCH.
I know seven Military families that will feel his presence and remember his legacy every day, as they pull into their driveways on CHIEF CHRIS KYLE COURT in Riverdale, MD. Also I will name another street in memory of Chad Littlefield in the very near future.

Lindsey Lacz said...

Wow, I am so touched and honored by all of your comments. It is so amazing to have strangers reach out and say, "We share your grief." Chris was really a one of a kind guy, and it warms my heart to know so many people care. Thank you.

Texasnation2012 said...

As someone that was born and raised a Texan, I found your posting right on. I am still trying to wrap my head around the entire thing but seeing the pictures and video restored how proud I am of not only this country but of our State. I was not able to attended because my husband and I are stationed in NC. I think i possibly cried harder at the pictures of the honors he was shown then i did the news. It has restored the faith. I am so glad you both could get out. We are all family no matter where we come from. When we lose one, we loose our own.

Anonymous said...

Simply beautiful! For such a well respected man and his beautiful family!

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing this. I needed this and it helped to read it.

John 15: 13
No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.

Daryl said...

Lindsey,

Your a talented writer and I enjoyed reading about your experiance during this tragic time.
After I read Kyle's book I wanted to meet him in person. I am a big fan.
I got the chance and met him briefly on January 16th at the Shot Show. He signed his book for a Marine friend of mine and was very gracious.
I am glad to see so much support for Kyle and Littlefield's family and all who have served. Your right it does help in restoring faith.
Thank you and thank your husband.

Sincerely,

Daryl

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I just started dating a SEAL. Before that, I had no experience with the Military and my Mother was actually quite negative towards me ever dating a Military man and the Military in general.

After only 3 months of learning more about the Military I can say I am fundamentally changed. I am awed by their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families. I don't understand now how someone could not love the Military and all they stand for.

I am from Canada and this whole experience has really made me fall in love with America for the first time. I've never wanted to be a citizen although I've been eligible for a few years, but now I do. I would be proud to call myself an American.

I consider myself lucky to have learned about your son and subsequently read his book. It was an honor to get to know such an amazing person. I truly am sorry for your loss and I am grateful for all of the help and support that your family is receiving.

I will do my best to support the SEAL community for the rest of my life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I just started dating a SEAL. Before that, I had no experience with the Military and my Mother was actually quite negative towards me ever dating a Military man and the Military in general.

After only 3 months of learning more about the Military I can say I am fundamentally changed. I am awed by their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families. I don't understand now how someone could not love the Military and all they stand for.

I am from Canada and this whole experience has really made me fall in love with America for the first time. I've never wanted to be a citizen although I've been eligible for a few years, but now I do. I would be proud to call myself an American.

I consider myself lucky to have learned about your son and subsequently read his book. It was an honor to get to know such an amazing person. I truly am sorry for your loss and I am grateful for all of the help and support that your family is receiving.

I will do my best to support the SEAL community for the rest of my life.

Jean-Pierre Landry said...

As a Canadian soldier for close to 15 years, I have so much respect for men like Chris and Chad and the sacrifices they have made for my freedom and my daughters'. Thank you, again. May you keep overwatch on the SEALs that keep us safe every day. Je Me Souviens.

Norma Arnold said...

I never had the pleasure of meeting Chris,however after reading his book ,I truly felt he and his family were a part of my family.My heart was broken when we got the news of his and Chad's untimely deaths.My prayer for their families is God Peace and Blessing .

Anonymous said...

My thoughts and prayers for the Kyle and Littlefield families will continue, as they do for all of the men and women who serve, or have served our country. I spent two years at NAB Coronado, catching glimpses of what America's finest warriors go through, and have nothing but the greatest love, respect and admiration for their commitment. Thank you for sharing this, it has helped to restore some of my faith in humanity, and America as well. God bless.

Patricia Carney said...

God Bless you and Keep you all wrapped in his ever loving embrace and faith! I was one of those military mom's standing in the rain on the side of road at 664/287 intersection. I would not of had it any other way! My son is in afghanistan and he graduated Midlothian High School 2008 and has always looked up to Chris Kyle. I just sad it was not honored more from our commander in chief ( THAT I DID NOT VOTE FOR)! God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for restoring my faith in the American People. We honor and love our military. We quietly grieve for CPO Kyle. I have been disappointed that our President did not call for a national day of mourning. Instead, my spirits have been buoyed by the response of the American people who have honored Kyle and his family and friends with this glorious show of support and love. Thank you for your touching account. May God bless you.

Przemek J said...

I'm only a person who read Mr. Chris Kyle's book, but I honor him as a man of great valor a true hero and a person that I admire. I come from Poland and I wish everybody in my country could give such support to a fallen soldier like it was shown in USA.

Sgt. Charles Tilley said...

Thanks Chris for your service, Guys like you only come around once in a lifetime. You were a gaurdian angel on the battlefield for many soldiers . They may never have got home if you were not looking over them . May you rest in peace .I hope when I get to heaven I will be able to thank you in person for all you have done for our country.

Stacey, Jimmy and Cade said...

We (my husband, son, and I) traveled two hours in the cold and rain to stand at attention as the procession went through Waco. My husband held his Marine Corps flag and saluted as the hearse went by. I could barely hold my end of the flag up because I was wiping away so many tears. I never knew Chris or Chad, but I think about them and their families every day. I send prayers their way often, and want so desperately to live in the belief that humanity as a whole is kind. Thank you so much for sharing this, I have wondered what it was like from the other side to see the outpouring of support from us everyday people.

Chuck Taylor said...

The thoughts in this blog express what we could not. Knowing Chris as our next door neighbor here in Alpine and attending Dallas and Austin is permanently engraved in my mind. Chris was the perfect American Hero,Dad, Husband and human being.
Well Done Chief.