Officials in Odessa, Texas, finally unveiled a 15-foot statue in the memory—and likeness—of legendary Navy SEAL Chris Kyle last Thursday, paying tribute to a fallen native son. Kyle was best known for his exploits as a sniper during four tours in the Iraq War, later going on to pen the bestselling book American Sniper, on which the film of the same name was based. To the people of Odessa, however, where Kyle was born, he also means so much more.
“This beautiful and meaningful plaza will be a memorialization plaza for those who are serving, those who have served and those who did not come home. The plaza is a place of unity, reflection and honor,” stated the Odessa Convention and Visitors Bureau.
According to Fox News, funds for the $1 million statue was raised by Odessa Community Foundation. The statue itself was constructed in bronze by sculptor Vic Payne and set atop at 48,000-pound limestone base. The memorial plaza that the statue sits in also faces a nearby VA center as well.
“Most of us who visit the site will miss much of the symbolism,” Kelly Cook, one of the landscape architects that helped plan the memorial, wrote online. ” We wanted that. It is not meant to be a tourist destination. The memorial is for those who are serving, those who have served, those who never came home, their friends, and their families. We think Chris would have liked that.”
Most importantly, Cook said that Kyle would have wanted the memorial to be about more than just himself.
“While we didn’t have the opportunity to know Chris, the fellow SEALS and military that we interviewed all said the same thing…he would not have wanted this to be about him. So we designed the plaza to take the words and actions of Chris and to apply them to his brother SEALS, all of the active and retired military, and to the first-responders who help and protect us every day,” Cook wrote.
You can watch the unveiling below:
Taya Kyle, Kyle’s wife and an advocate for military families, spoke at the unveiling and expressed her gratitude for her husband’s memorial.
“I feel like there’s something divine at work in every individual (at the ceremony),” Taya Kyle said. “…I feel like them coming out today says a lot about their patriotic spirit, too.”
You can watch her speech below:
According to the Odessa American, State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) will propose a bill to rename a nearby stretch of highway after Chris Kyle as well.