EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Award-winning author Eric Greitens, a Rhodes Scholar, humanitarian and Navy SEAL, spoke at Eastchester High School on Thursday about the importance of character, virtue and decision-making.
Greitens read excerpts from his latest book, "The Heart and the Fist," and analogized his experiences during training and in conflict overseas to the issues students may face in their everyday lives.
The author asked students to think about a variety of situations, and how even slight life changes can dramatically alter their lives and the lives of the people around them.
“Think about what it might be like to change your course in life, even just a few degrees, and decide today that you’re going to find a way to develop your strengths and talents,” he said. “Every single one of you has something to offer.”
While training for the Navy SEALS, Greitens had to go through a series of arduous exercises that included lengthy swims with bound limbs and 5-mile runs in deep sand. His superiors called them “evolutions.”
“Every time you make a decision, every time you confront your fear, your character evolves,” he said. “When you’re willing to move through pain in order to serve a larger purpose, your character evolves.”
During his speech, he discussed humanitarian missions he went on in Bosnia, Rwanda and Bolivia. He described children who had overcome incredible tragedy and hardships to help those around him succeed, or, in certain cases, live.
“Sometimes the strongest young people are the ones that say, ‘you know what, even though things are hard, I’m going to find a way to give help to others,’” Greitens said. “All of you right now can make a decision that you are going to find a way to make a difference in the life of at least one person.”
Greitens is a man who follows his own advice. After making four tours overseas, he founded “The Mission Continues,” the country’s leading organization for helping wounded and disabled warriors to serve as citizen leaders at home. He has helped injured veterans land in positions in which they can use their experiences to influence their communities.
Before wrapping up with a brief question-and-answer session, the author reminded the students that, if those veterans can land on their feet and help others, so can they.
“Every single one of you has the capacity in your life to help others. You have unique gifts and abilities,” he said. “Find a way to channel them and develop them and you will have a vision of service to your schools, communities and lives.”