Parkway North graduate Eric Greitens was a guest speaker for the sixth grade students at Parkway South Middle. His inspirational message encouraged the kids to find a way to make a difference in their world today. Greitens expounded on the idea that they are not too young to positively impact the people with whom they come into contact with every day.
English-Language Arts teacher Amy Woolf loved the impact Greitens made on the students. "What an opportunity for our kids to hear someone with his values, work ethic, compassion etc. speak. The icing on the cake was that he graduated from North High. It was so exciting to talk to the kids about him and tell them he sat where they were sitting just a few years ago. During the assembly the kids were very engrossed in his message. All the students were paying very close attention to his every word. Once the first student asked a question, I think we could have been there all day. Mr. Greitens was very interested in each student's question and it showed in his reaction to the kids. He is a great role model, hero and former Parkway grad!!"
World Geography teacher Karen Fluchel was strongly impacted by his message as well. She says, "He spoke so well to the students' levels to help them understand the importance of being a humanitarian and participating in community service. It was amazing to hear all that he has accomplished in his life!"
Sixth grader Blaine Ward adds, "I was unsure of "The Warrior's Heart" before Mr. Greitens spoke, but when he finished, I thought in my head, I have to get that book."
Jewel Zingrich summed it up nicely by adding, "He is a true American. He spoke sophisticated, honestly and told us exactly how things were and how they were gonna go."
Sixth grader Grace Gill was impacted as well. "I think Eric Greitens is a very good person and I think about all the hardships he went through as a Navy SEAL just to fight for our country."
At age 16, Eric’s youth leader Bruce Carl took him and a few other high school students to a downtown St. Louis homeless shelter. Carl wanted to impress upon the young people that it was important to understand how our neighbors live. Carl challenged Greitens to make a difference in the lives of others by making a plan and using knowledge and resources to back it up.
As a young adult, Greitens put action behind what he had learned and began his humanitarian volunteer work, traveling to Rwanda, Cambodia, Albania, Mexico, India, Bosnia and Bolivia. Along the way, he became an advocate for using power to protect the weak, to stop ethnic cleansing, and end genocide.
Greitens served as United States Navy SEAL officer for 8 years. During his lecture, Greitens spoke about his rigorous combat training, including Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training. Known to be among the most grueling military training in the world, only approximately 10 percent of the candidates successfully complete it. Of all the training over this six month period, Greitens found the 'drown proofing' exercise to be the most difficult evolution to complete, and the running exercises to be the easiest.
The intense training prepared Greitens for real world combat, where he served four tours of duty during the Global War on Terrorism in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, and Iraq.
After returning from Iraq in 2007, Eric founded The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that challenges veterans to serve and lead in communities across America. He is the author of three books: Strength & Compassion, a compilation of photographs and essays from his humanitarian efforts, The Heart and the Fist, a raw look at his humanitarian and military service designed for adults, and The Warrior's Heart, designed for the teen reader.