‘American Sniper’ reminds us to thank our soldiers

The colors red, white and blue mean a lot to me, especially when someone in camouflage salutes before them.

The patriotism seen in each person who sings along to the national anthem, and watching everyone focus on one object that stands for something more for our country, touches me. Growing up in a military family has me seeing this image often.

Even though I don’t have the most pleasant singing voice, I will always sing the words of the national anthem because I know who’s keeping us free: the nation’s military.

While watching Bradley Cooper portray Chris Kyle in the film “American Sniper” this past weekend, I couldn’t help but go back to my past and think about just how many men and women like my dad have sacrificed to keep us here.

While the military is criticized for being reckless and useless during different parts of the war in Iraq, it takes a mature person to understand the reason why.

The U.S. is known for coming to the aid of struggling countries, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with defending our homeland when someone threatens the freedom that we had been rewarded with the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

Passive-minded Americans disagree on the entire concept of a war, but it angers me when they criticize soldiers about their job. Everyone is called to do something different in life, and not everyone is suited to defend our country. My dad chose the right career path. His personality type allowed him to thrive in his job field and showed others his ability to lead platoons and hundreds of soldiers in formation.

There have been a number of posts on social media degrading “American Sniper.” I’ve seen online posts calling Kyle a “violent murderous man” and a “rotten dead soul.” One tweet on Twitter also described the storyline like this: “an occupier mows down faceless Iraqis but the real victim is his anguished soul.”

Enough is enough.

Being in the military causes soldiers to make crucial decisions, sometimes making them choose between killing and being killed. It doesn’t make them murderers. Assuming each soldier is in the correct mental state, he or she would not freely kill another human being without the threat of his life on the line or the lives of his brothers at arms.

I am touched that my dad would even consider laying his life on the line for my family and millions of people living in the U.S. Life is so precious yet soldiers are willing to lose theirs if it means keeping people like me safe.

It’s inspiring to see young men and women stay committed to their country and the soldiers they go to war with. Some of my family’s greatest friends are my dad’s friends he met in the Army, and they’ve seen me grow since I was in diapers. Seeing families come together with this connection gives me an opportunity to have a family everywhere I am.

That American flag means a lot to me, and anyone who puts their life on the line has my absolute respect, with the biggest respect of them all being for the man who has given me the opportunity to attend Baylor.

My dad is a hero, and not a day will go by where that won’t cross my mind.

The next time you stand up for the national anthem, think about who has fought for the flag that we are saluting. Soldiers have also fought for your right to not stand for the pledge, so why shouldn’t you express that in a respectful way?

Being an American doesn’t limit anyone’s opinion of our U.S. military, but it does give you the obligation to respect the men and women who serve overseas to keep it the land of the free.