The Warrior's Heart by Eric Greitens

Eric grew up like a lot of Midwestern kids: reading adventure books, learning about heroes and history, and working towards college. That was where the "real world" started, and his adventures would begin. Offered a full ride to Duke University, he couldn't wait to begin. Unfortunately, what he learned in his classes fell short of his expectations. Where were the pools of wisdom to solve the world's problems?

He knew he had to make his own adventures. His first stop: China. He spent a summer teaching English in China, and studying martial arts. This was shortly after the Tiananamen Square protests, and he met some of the student activists who had been there. They were curious about America's Bill of Rights, and Constitution. That innocent conversation led to his interrogation by the police later that week.  He began to see what kind of danger these kids had truly faced, and what danger he could have faced if the police had been serious. One of the students gave him film of the June 4th protests to develop. It was these that sparked his love of photography.

His next adventure took him to Croatia where he worked with the Bosnian and Serbian refugees. It was there that he realized what was upsetting him. So many were willing to help, but not until it was too late. These people had suffered ethnic cleansing, and the world had sat back and watched. Our aid came to the survivors. These people needed heroes willing to step in before all this tragedy.

In Rwanda, he saw the flaws in the system. So much corruption, vice, laziness...but also the generosity, and the unflappable spirits of the people unwilling to give up. In Santa Cruz, he saw the despair. Children living on the streets, abandoned by their parents, or runaways trying to escape the abuse brought on by abject poverty and substance abuse. Many turned to drugs themselves as a way to escape their reality. There were also the kids of Mano Amiga, rich in spirit and imagination, rich in friendship and education.

What did all of this mean? In his heart, he knew that he would only be happy serving people, making a difference. He turned to the Marines, and their SEAL program, knowing that they had the most difficult military training in the world. Could he do it? He was about to find out.

Greitens writes an uplifting story of overcoming obstacles, utilizing resources, and using his talents and education to give back to others. He writes about the inspiration he gained from these people who suffered, but kept going, and how he wanted to do more. Adapted from his best-selling  book for adults, this has a great message for young people: you can make a difference if you're willing to work for it.

*Library Link*
"When I reflect back on it now, I realize that my hardest moment was also the only time in all of Hell Week when I was alone, focused on my own pain. It was the only moment when I began to think that things were unfair, when I started to feel sorry for myself.
We woke to chaos. They might have been firing blanks again, or it could have just been screaming and bullhorns. We stumbled into the sun, and they made us run for the surf.
Most of the men in the class were still half-asleep and clumsy and tight and pained. When we were shoulder-deep in water, they told us to run south. We ran an awkward floating race in the ocean, making little progress.
All the warmth in my body fled. I looked back, and the faces of the men in my class wore expressions of pain. I can't remember if I starred to sing a song or yell for our class or shout defiance at the instructors, but I remember booming at the top of my lungs, and the class joining me in an outburst of some kind. The attitude of the class turned - as if we all decided to stand up at once after being knocked down - and soon we were shouting with joy," (Greitens pg. 213-214, 2012).
If you liked this, check out:

I am a SEAL: Team Six Warrior by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin
Navy Seal Dogs by Michael Ritland, Gary Brozek, and Thea Feldman
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Greitens, Eric. (2012). Warrior's Heart: Becoming a man of compassion and courage. S.l.: Houghton Mifflin.

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