In May 2015, the Texas Senate passed House Bill 1187 designating a segment of U.S. Hwy 287 in Midlothian, as the Chris Kyle Memorial Highway. In June, Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law and this past Friday - almost 3 years to the date Chris was killed - I had the honor of spending the day with Chris' widow, Taya Kyle and the couple's two children at an official ceremony prior to the signs going up. The room was filled with city and state officials, family and friends of the couple. Chris grew up in Midlothian and after retiring from the service returned to the small town to raise his family. I found myself sharing this special moment via a small world connection with one of Chris' best friends Rich Emberlin. I've met Taya several times and have always been impressed with her sincerity and strength. A very emotional Taya spoke to the room to convey her gratitude. "I don't want it to be seeing the sign and missing him every time. But seeing the sign and hopefully remembering what he stood for.... a good ole' boy, in the best of ways... He had this capacity to serve in a way that a lot of people don't have, but I think he's inspired more of us to have more of that. Observe more. Do more. Be more appreciative... If we can do all of that when we see this sign.. I think that would make Chris happy and it would make me happy too."
|Cynthia Smoot with Taya Kyle at the dedication ceremony for the Chris Kyle Memorial Highway|
Chris Kyle was a Navy SEAL and author of the New York Times bestseller American Sniper. His book was made into an award-wining film that struck a chord with millions of Americans and continues to serve as a reminder of our veterans sacrifice on and off the field. Kyle is reported to have achieved 150 kills as a Navy SEAL sniper, the most of any sniper in U.S. military history. SEAL Team 3 Chief Chris Kyle served four combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and elsewhere. Following his combat deployments, he became chief instructor for training Naval Special Warfare Sniper and Counter-Sniper teams, and he authored the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Doctrine, the first Navy SEAL sniper manual. Kyle was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation. He also received the Grateful Nation Award, given by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot at point-blank range and killed at a Texas gun range. He and a friend where attempting to help a fellow veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. His friend, Chad Littlefield, was also shot and killed. The veteran who shot them, Eddie Ray Routh, was found guilty of capital murder in February of 2015. Thousands attended Kyle’s memorial service held in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium.