In the wake of events last week, we have now all had a few days to process what transpired in the wake of Former Governor Ventura's "victory." Emotions aside, he won. Chris Kyle lost.
Were the odds fair? How does a person defend themselves if they are dead?
The burden falls to all of us.
Words do matter. Moreover, excellence matters.
And Chris Kyle by all accords told it straight, even to the point of great humility.
Amidst the chaos of this of WWII, a new generation of American Warrior emerged. And so began the evolution of the modern American warrior, the creation of the Special Operations warfare community. With it became some of the greatest accomplishments in modern warfare. Countless lives have been saved because of it and American interests continue to be supported to this very moment, regardless of which party is in power back in Washington, D.C. Indeed, our country has become proficient in Special Operation Forces from all Armed Services. This serves as a shield that this nation has come to rely upon. Yet it exacts a tremendous toll on those who fight, along with their families.
Governor Ventura was a part of this tradition and his service is to be honored, not demeaned. And it is evident that this man feels quite passionate in protecting his name in greed for which he is entitled to do without criticism from anyone. He served honorably. That is not in dispute.
But now to do so at the expense of a fallen comrade who is no longer here to protect his good name?
Chris Kyle meant many things to various people. To many he was a true American hero with the compassion and faith who truly cared for others. Sadly this recipient would end up a shooting victim not on the battlefield, but in our own beloved Texas.
Governor Ventura spent his early years taking down opponents in a wrestling ring and swearing his vengeance on lost matches for the next pay per view match. He wielded a Gatling gun while teaming up with Governor Schwarzenegger against an alien in the jungles of Central America. Yes he ran for public office but was it about him or Minnesota as he sat before the cameras of many studios celebrating being a celebrity? Is that not the very embodiment of Hollywood? The polar opposites of Navy SEALS -- rather often quiet professionals you never hear from -- ever.
Chris Kyle, with a soldier's salary, fought and left blood so celebrities like Former Governor Ventura could continue to earn another million dollars and parade around with an ego the size of Minnesota while reminding us that he did not have time to bleed.
Chris Kyle did. From 1999-2009, unlike any other in American history, and then he was killed. He saved hundreds of lives. American lives.
Chris perished trying to help his fellow brother, a Marine. And Chris loved his Marines. He was the embodiment of selflessness. And he did such things for others often.
Chris is reported in numerous forums telling people he did not care about being the most lethal sniper in American history. The number he cared about was simply the number of lives of people who had been saved, expressly and explicitly Americans or ally lives.
And how do we honor this service to our nation?
We allow for our system of Justice to be used in such a manner that is tantamount to urinating on a dead man's grave? No. That argument won't hunt.
Governor Ventura's legal team completely failed to make any rightful legal claim of wrongdoing on Chris despite the ruling of the Court.
In short, this has become simply a money grab. Nothing more. Nothing less. It's reminiscent of the recent World Cup where a soccer player just flops to get the call in his favor.
And greed does not, by any account, supersede the creed of the SEAL warrior:
My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.
I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.
I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me -- my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.
We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.
Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.
Many believe as a country we are devoid of a sense of appreciation because it all comes seemingly so easy to us now as Americans. In too many ways, we now shun our servicemen and women who make the ultimate sacrifice. Their problems are not our problems. And true to human nature, if we cannot see something, a good chance exists that if many of us can get it out of our mind, it is not a part of our lives.
Governor Ventura made a mockery of the American judicial system he purports to have fought for. Indeed, he had an exceptional Navy football career. He has used this trial as a public spectacle to yet again act through reminiscing of a time that was far more adventurous and lucrative. Ultimately, this Court provided a venue for his ego to once again, and perhaps for the last time, play to an audience.
Governor Ventura, if you understand what the word "honor" means, you will end this search for greed by donating the $1.8M award to charity -- effective immediately -- just as Chris did with a large share of the proceeds from his best selling book, American Sniper.
Michael Duga served as Chief of Staff to Former Senator Max Cleland and currently serves as a Policy Advisor to the Department of Defense. The author's opinion expressly represents his own only and not of any other entity or person.