ARLINGTON –– Thousands gathered at Cowboys Stadium Monday to say goodbye to slain Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, a man depicted as a hardened warrior with a tender heart.
While the farewell included live performances from country stars Randy Travis and Joe Nichols, it was Kyle's widow, Taya, who made the most impact. She used her honest remarks to make the giant stadium feel as small as a living room.
"I stand before you a broken woman, but I am now and always will be the wife of man who was a warrior both on and off the battlefield," she said.
Taya Kyle told a story about how he responded the night she revealed her flaws and struggles to Kyle, while they were dating.
"Without batting an eye and without pausing he gently said, in a way only Chris could, 'You're a package deal, babe. I love you, all of you,'" she said.
That was one side of Chris Kyle. The other was his career as the most lethal sniper in American military history with 160 confirmed kills, including one from 1.2 miles away.
His friends acknowledged that he'd saved the lives of countless comrades with his sharpshooting, including a young Navy SEAL who dropped and hid under one particularly fierce barrage of gunfire.
"When (the young SEAL) finally got the courage to look back up he saw Chris who hadn't been off his gun, who hadn't taken cover. But instead stayed glued to his weapon, covering his field of fire and calling out enemy positions as he began to engage them," said one of Kyle's friends, who did not introduce himself.
In this large crowd, many knew and loved Chris Kyle. Others only wished they'd met him.
"Thank you, Chris. Thank you for loving me. All of me," said his wife.
On Tuesday morning, Kyle's body will be carried in a funeral procession from Midlothian to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. The trip is expected to take between four to five hours as residents in communities along the way venture out to pay their respects.