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Chris Kyle Day declared in Texas to honor SEAL of 'American Sniper' movie fame

| Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, 7:18 p.m.
FILE In this April 6, 2012, photo, Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL and author of the book ?American Sniper? poses in Midlothian, Texas. Former Navy SEAL and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who won $1.8 million in a defamation lawsuit last year against the estate of the late Chris Kyle, says he won?t see the film partly because Kyle is no hero to him. He tells The Associated Press a hero must be honorable, and there? no honor in lying. Lyle claimed in his ?American Sniper? book that he punched out a man, whom he later identified as Ventura, at a California bar in 2006 for allegedly saying the SEALs 'deserve to lose a few' in Iraq. Ventura said it never happened. (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Paul Moseley, File)
FILE In this April 6, 2012, photo, Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL and author of the book ?American Sniper? poses in Midlothian, Texas. Former Navy SEAL and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who won $1.8 million in a defamation lawsuit last year against the estate of the late Chris Kyle, says he won?t see the film partly because Kyle is no hero to him. He tells The Associated Press a hero must be honorable, and there? no honor in lying. Lyle claimed in his ?American Sniper? book that he punched out a man, whom he later identified as Ventura, at a California bar in 2006 for allegedly saying the SEALs 'deserve to lose a few' in Iraq. Ventura said it never happened. (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Paul Moseley, File)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday he would officially declare Feb. 2 as Chris Kyle Day in the state, in honor of the late SEAL sharpshooter portrayed in the film “American Sniper.”

The movie, starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle, has been a box office hit as well as a flashpoint of debate between liberals and conservatives.

Abbott, a Republican, made the announcement during a speech at the Texans Veterans of Foreign Affairs Mid-Winter Convention in Austin.

“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 said during the speech.

Kyle died Feb. 2, 2013, at a Texas gun range, where he and a friend were shot and killed while trying to help a fellow veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A trial for Eddie Ray Rough, the gunman accused of killing Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, is scheduled to begin Feb. 9, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The film has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture. It led a Reuters/IPSOS poll of roughly 2,400 Americans who were asked which film should win the top Oscar.

At the same time, critics have said the film glorifies war and sanitizes Kyle, who called Muslims “savages” in his memoir.

If box office estimates hold, the film will make about $250 million by Sunday, and the highest Super Bowl weekend grosser of all time, Variety reported.

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