Today I went to see the movie American Sniper. Not what I had originally planned to see today, but one I had wanted to see anyway. American Sniper is a Clint Eastwood produced movie based on the autobiographical novel by US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (attributed as being the most lethal sniper in American military history). Chris Kyle was a Texan and started out as a cowboy and professional Rodeo rider before joining the military. I thought I would see this largely to improve my understanding of America, their gun culture and their seeming obsession with all things military. Watch the trailer.
Ok, so it is essentially a war movie. I hate war and violence at the best of times and I have a hard time understanding it. I am no film critic, nor professional movie reviewer, so I don’t really want to do a review, but I will say it is a very American film and very patriotic. Overall, I liked American Sniper and would recommend it. I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5. And Bradley Coopers acting was excellent.
What it led me to was thinking about the Americans pride in their country and in their military personnel. I have noticed this on many occasions before. There is a great deal of respect and admiration directed towards anyone who has served (or is currently serving) in the military. You see it everywhere, everyday. Service men and women are offered discounts in most stores and preferential treatment at things like tourist attractions. I have actually witnessed military veterans being pulled to the front of a large queue, jumping many places because they are identified as having served their country (and most do not complain). They also get customised number plates on their cars, specialised caps, etc. Generally, they are well treated.
The level of patriotism in the US, on the whole, is supreme to anything I have seen anywhere else. Australians are very proud of their country, I can attest to that, and I am very proud of where I come from, but it is not like what I have seen here. National pride is overwhelming, particularly on days like Veterans Day and 4th of July, where I have seen virtually every house in a street with an American flag planted in their front yard. Patriotism is evident in the number of flags flying from buildings, painted on cars, printed on T-shirts or planted in suburban yards.
Aside from an immense national pride, Texans have great pride in their state; beyond anything I have seen Aussie states exhibit. Besides flying the national flag, the state flag of Texas is flown just as often, if not more! (How many Aussies can recall their state flag)? I partly attribute this to the simplicity of the Texan flag – it is easy to recreate and doesn’t have a coat of arms on it. And Texas is big, I think some amount of pride comes from that too.
Texans are also very Christian, very friendly, polite and show a good deal of respect. We mostly get addressed as ma’am and sir wherever we go, and although it took a bit of getting used to, I think I will miss it when I go home. All of these characteristics are endearing features – I have come to really like Texas and the people that I have met here, even though Texans have a reputation as being a bit “red-necked”, gun-toting, big-hat-wearing cowboys. Even though it will never replace the love I have of my home, Australia, Texas has won a little part of my heart!