Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared Feb. 2 as "Chris Kyle Day" in his state, honoring the late sniper as a petition drive also gets underway to consider him for the Medal of Honor.

Kyle, considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, is the subject of the blockbuster film "American Sniper."

Though the movie has been controversial, Abbott told Fox News he decided to honor Kyle because “he’s an American hero.”

“He had the guts to stand up and defend this country,” Abbott, a Republican governor, told Fox News on Monday.

He issued the proclamation at noon in Austin, Texas’ capital.

Meanwhile, White House petitions have been launched calling for Kyle to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

One of them states he should be awarded, posthumously, “For his four tours to Iraq which saved hundreds and possibly thousands of US soldiers lives.” 

The petition, with about 5,000 signatures as of Monday morning, would need many more to hit the 100,000-signature threshold that typically triggers a White House response. Those responses are not binding -- the typical process for the Medal of Honor prescribes that nominations come either from a member of Congress or the military itself. 

Abbott originally made the announcement about Chris Kyle Day on Friday while speaking to a Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Austin. Hundreds of veterans in a hotel ballroom greeted the news with a standing ovation.

Kyle's hometown was the Fort Worth suburb of Midlothian. He was 37 when he was killed in 2013 at a North Texas gun range. A former Marine charged in his death goes on trial in Stephenville next month.

Kyle did four tours in Iraq.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.