ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — As military service members carried the flag-draped coffin out of Cowboys Stadium, the sounds of bagpipes echoed and people saluted Chris Kyle, an ex-Navy SEAL sniper who dedicated his post-military career to helping other veterans.
Widow Taya Kyle spoke through tears earlier, surrounded by her husband's military friends, her voice trembling as she described to a crowd of thousands what "my slow-talking Texas man" had meant to his family, friends and country.
"Chris, there isn't enough time to tell you everything you mean to me and everything you taught me," the widow said Monday during a two-hour memorial service for Kyle, a decorated sniper and best-selling author who was slain earlier this month at a gun range.
She described herself as broken but said the family will "put one foot in front of the other" to get through their grief. She told her two children that they will remember Kyle's silly side, Texas twang and prayers they prayed together.
Nearly 7,000 people, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband, attended the service. Dozens of military personnel and others were seated in front of the podium near the Dallas Cowboys' star at midfield, where Kyle's coffin was placed at the beginning.
His friends and fellow service members told mourners that Kyle was more than an excellent sniper feared by U.S. enemies — he was a dedicated family man known for his sense of humor, compassion, selflessness and generosity. Kyle completed four tours of duty in Iraq and wrote the best-selling book "American Sniper."
Some who served with him said that Kyle was a man, myth and legend because he would do anything for his fellow SEALs.
Childhood friends recalled his mischievous side, and one said he and Kyle played with BB guns as kids — and Kyle "wasn't a good shot back then."
Bo French, an executive at Craft International, the security training company Kyle started after he left the Navy, told those gathered that Kyle had a passion for helping others. Kyle also founded a nonprofit, FITCO Cares, that provides at-home fitness equipment for emotionally and physically wounded veterans.
Pictures of Kyle with his family and SEALs were shown on a large screen in the stadium. The back page of the memorial service program included copies of handwritten notes from Kyle's young kids: "I will miss your heart. I will love you even if you died" from his daughter, and "I miss you a lot. One of the best things that has happened to me is you" from his son. The children signed them "Baby Girl" and "Bubba."
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