'American Sniper': Texas Gov. Declares Chris Kyle Day in Honor of Navy SEAL

Associated Press
Navy SEAL Chris Kyle

"We will commemorate his passing but more importantly, remember his answering of the call of duty," stated Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Next Monday has officially been declared Chris Kyle Day in Texas in honor of the real-life Navy SEAL who inspired American Sniper.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the Feb. 2 dedication during a speech to veterans made at Texans Veterans of Foreign Affairs, according to prepared remarks published on the governor's official website. 

"I wanted you to be the first to know … in honor of a Texas son, a Navy SEAL and an American hero — a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield — I am declaring February 2 Chris Kyle Day in Texas," Abbott stated in the address.

"We will commemorate his passing. But more importantly, remember his answering of the call of duty," Abbot stated. 

Chris Kyle, who died in 2013 after being shot at a firing range in the U.S., is portrayed by Bradley Cooper in the Warner Bros. drama. The Clint Eastwood-directed film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor (for Cooper). 

Sniper, which opened in wide release on Jan. 16, also officially claimed the title of the top grossing war movie of all time in the United States.  

So far, the film has grossed $217 million domestically, edging out 1998's Steven Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan, which grossed $216 million, not accounting for inflation. Eastwood's film has polarized audiences, drawing both criticism and praise for its depiction of the Iraq War and the real-life sniper. 

Also on Friday, Sniper garnered praise from Michelle Obama, who spoke at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., and commented on the film. 

"I had a chance to see American Sniper this week on that long flight we took. … And while I know there have been critics, I felt that, more often than not, this film touches on many of the emotions and experiences that I've heard firsthand from military families over these past few years," the first lady said, according to remarks prepared by the White House. 

"Now, I'm not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but this movie reflects those wrenching stories that I've heard — the complex journeys that our men and women in uniform endure," Obama stated. "The complicated moral decisions they are tasked with every day. The stresses of balancing love of family with a love of country. And the challenges of transitioning back home to their next mission in life."