Chris Kyle memorial draws thousands to mourn 'American Sniper'

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Feb. 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM  |  Updated Feb. 11, 2013 at 4:12 PM   |   Comments

Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was be among the thousands of people who turned out for the tearful, somber memorial of slain ex-SEAL Chris Kyle at Cowboys Stadium in Texas Monday afternoon.

The outspoken Tea Party darling and gun rights advocate announced her attendance on her Facebook page Monday morning.

Kyle, 38, was killed at a gun range on February 2 by troubled Iraq War veteran Eddie Ray Routh, along with his friend and neighbor Chad Littlefield, 35. Kyle was known for having the most confirmed kills and for his memoir, American Sniper.

Monday's memorial service for Kyle was expected to be attended by more than 200 Patriot Guard Riders, the motorcycle club who attend funerals of former military service members, who say they expect it will be their biggest mission ever.

"Chris Kyle's mission is the biggest mission we've ever done," said Dan Mathys, one of the riders planning on attending. "We've done big missions in the past. We hear riders are coming in from all over the country. Florida, Montana, let alone the military and the public being invited to this memorial service is something we've never seen before."

A procession, set to take place Tuesday, will wind from Midlothian, Texas to Texas State Cemetery in Austin--a trip of about 200 miles--escorted by military personnel, first responders and Patriot Guard riders.

Kyle's death was drawn into the ongoing political conversation over gun violence, when supporters of looser gun control and laws and the NRA often tout the line "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Kyle--who was that good guy with a gun, at a range no less--became an easy mark for those on both sides of the argument.

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