Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Friday announced his intention to declare Feb. 2 as “Chris Kyle Day” in the state to honor the slain U.S. Navy SEAL who is the subject of the recently released movie “American Sniper.” Kyle died on Feb. 2, 2013, after being shot by an ex-Marine at a gun range in Texas.

“In honor of a Texas son, a Navy SEAL and an American hero -- a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield -- I am declaring February 2nd Chris Kyle Day in Texas,” Abbott, a Republican, said during a speech at a Texas Veterans of Foreign Affairs Convention in Austin on Friday, according to a statement released by the governor’s office. “We thank Chris Kyle and all of you for your service and sacrifice.”

Kyle, born in Odessa, Texas, did four tours in Iraq and is considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills.

Abbott also said that it is the duty of the government to honor those “whose sacrifice has preserved our freedom,” according to the statement.  

Abbott’s announcement comes amid rising criticism of Kyle’s career in the armed forces. The release of “American Sniper,” based on Kyle’s memoir of the same name, has led many critics to argue that the film not only glorifies war but also presents Kyle, who termed his enemies in Iraq as “savage, despicable evil,” as a hero.

The film, directed by Clint Eastwood, has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture.