Sunday is February 2 - an important day. Of course most Americans will be thinking about the Super Bowl or wondering if the groundhog saw his shadow -- signaling that this winter still has more tough weather to deliver.
But a considerable number of people will stop on Sunday to remember an American military hero who was lost just one year ago.
It was on 2.2.2013 that Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and the man known as "America's Deadliest Sniper" and his close friend Chad Littlefield were reportedly shot and killed by another former member of the U.S. military whom they were trying to help cope with the stress and pain that often haunts our returning warriors.
TheBlaze covered the story from the first moments the news broke of the shooting through the memorial service in Cowboys Stadium and even to his burial in Austin, Texas where more than 100 Navy SEAL tridents were hand-punched into Kyle's coffin.
Chris Kyle was born in Odessa, Texas and raised as a cowboy in Midlothian, a small town south of Fort Worth. According to a story from the Professional Bull Riders website, Chris and his brother Jeff grew up as young ranchers who planned to serve their country in the military and then return home to raise cattle in Texas.
Both of the Kyle boys served in the military; Jeff from 2000 to 2008 and Chris from 1999 to 2009. It was during that decade that Chris proved to be an exceptional soldier and became the "most lethal sniper in U.S. military history" (which was the original subtitle of Kyle's bestselling book).
Kyle was awarded several medals and commendations from the Navy and the Marines. His unsurpassed aim also earned him the respect of the enemy. The Iraqis dubbed him, "The Devil of Ramadi." (Ramadi is the largest city in Iraq's Anbar province.)
Almost a year after his murder, Kyle was honored by the Professional Bull Riders organization (PBR). Jeff Robinson of Robinson Bucking Bulls, one of the premier providers of livestock for the PBR, renamed a fierce (and as yet "unridden") bull after Kyle, calling the animal The Devil of Ramadi.
TheBlaze asked Robinson about his connection to Kyle. He told us, "Ross Coleman and Luke Snyder (two retired PBR riders) introduced me to (Kyle's) story, and came up with the name," adding that he "thought it was an awesome way to show respect and support for such a unique individual."
The First Annual Chris Kyle Memorial Roping and Auction
To mark the one-year anniversary of Kyle's death, his parents, Wayne and Deby Kyle, along with Chris' brother Jeff, are honoring Kyle with a special event benefiting others who also served America.
From February 7 to 9, the small town of Hamilton, Texas (population around 3,100) is hosting the First Annual Chris Kyle Memorial Roping and Auction. The three-day event features a full schedule of activities for families and individuals. All of the money raised over the weekend will benefit Base Camp 40 (BC40), a non-profit organization that helps returning vets.
According to the event's organizers, the Kyle family suggested Base Camp 40 receive the first year's proceeds.
"Chris was involved in Base Camp 40," event organizer Chris Douglas told TheBlaze. "He attended one of their hunts in October of 2012, and in typical Chris Kyle fashion, became part of the BC40 family." Douglas was also emphatic in stating that 100 percent of the event's proceeds are going to Base Camp 40.
"It is our duty to serve those who serve us." - Chris Kyle
The schedule at next weekend's Chris Kyle Memorial Roping & Auction includes several roping events, a sold-out VIP dinner on Saturday night, and a full day of activities Sunday that kicks off with an 8 a.m. church service.
Of course, you don't need to travel to Texas to be part of the event. There are ample opportunities to purchase merchandise from the event's website. T-shirts, patches, hoodies, and jackets can be found on the site's "Gear" section.
And another appropriate way to remember and learn more about Chris Kyle is by pondering the words of his parents, who emailed the following to the event's organizer:
From cowboy boots to combat boots… Chris's dreams were to be a cowboy and a Navy SEAL. He accomplished both and with a determination that is rarely seen. He loved the country life with cattle and especially horses.
He learned to ride at an early age and then began to rodeo. From that he became an accomplished cowboy with his ability to break and train horses. Up before dawn, in the saddle all day to way past dark at times.
He was extremely happy, but one goal was yet to be accomplished, Navy SEAL. When he got the call to inquire about his interest, he jumped at the opportunity. Several people told him he could never become a SEAL.
Well one thing is for sure, you never told Chris he could never do anything because he would prove you wrong…His service to his Beloved Country is a testament to his determination, fortitude, conviction, and warrior spirit.
He achieved his goal.
Check out the latest details on next weekend's Chris Kyle Memorial Roping & Auction event.
Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter - @stuntbrain