In an almost cliché image, the rain is coming down on the stoic faces of proud Texans who’ve come out in support of a local hero named Chris Kyle.  They wave their hands and flags as the funeral procession passes by, complete with hundreds of Patriot Guard motorcycle riders, and scores of family, friends and teammates of the fallen soldier.

I’m writing this piece because it’s a long trip from Midlothian to Austin, where we will bury Chris in a little while, and I’ve realized that something needs to be said that hasn’t yet.

The grey sky today is the perfect metaphor for our collective mood in the country right now. The news headlines and our own financial concerns are hitting us every day with sour news. The dark skies are seen as a passing storm by some, or the start of “The Perfect Storm” by others. No matter the forecast, it’s cloudy and raining today. We can all feel it.

Enter into this scenario even more bad news, namely the untimely death of Navy SEAL Sniper, Chris Kyle. Most people will take this information, feel a tinge of sadness, comment, “What a tragedy,” and then move on with their lives, which is understandable.  Others, however, will stop and take notice. Some may even learn something about this man- and capture a glimmer of hope.

Someone wise once said that our reality is defined by what we continuously focus on.  When we are constantly bombarded with bad news, low bank accounts, mishaps, and doom, our spirits yearn for balance through something good or healthy. There are many of ways to find that good, but often it’s something transitory and self-gratifying. How much better if we can find that good medicine for our spirit through another mechanism.

Heroes. We all have them.

These are the guys and gals that we want to be like. As we mature, we realize that these honorable individuals are human, and so we begin to identify the specific qualities that we admire. These are the human traits that we identify with and want to incorporate into, well, ourselves. To those rugged individualists or rebels who say BS about having heroes, I challenge you to recall your favorite stories and movies and tell me you didn’t pick up something from them.  You see, we all have heroes.

Sometimes, we can find those qualities in real, living people.  If you’ve had the opportunity to read Chris Kyle’s book, American Sniper, you might have discovered some of these estimable traits that resonated with you. Young men might read about the warfare and adventures Chris experienced which could ignite that warrior spirit in them.  If you look closely, though, you’ll find much, much more to admire. Something to which all of us can aspire.