Krista loves inspiring others with her son Charlie’s “150% work ethic” and by reminding parents to raise their children to be passionate about our great country.

She has spoken to many local citizen groups including K9 Warriors, the Newcomers Club, the St. Augustine Sea Cadets, Daughters of the American Revolution, and even the CIA and FBI. On 9/11, she joined Atlantic Beach elected officials, law enforcement and Fire and Rescue when she spoke. This is an abridged version of one of her speeches.

“I am a Gold star mother – something you really don’t want to be.  The death of my son, Chief Petty Officer Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV who was killed in action in Iraq, gave our family that title. 

Waking up on May 3, 2016 to a news report of a soldier dying in Telskof, Iraq, told me everything I needed to know.  As his mother, I felt it was him.  I called every SEAL and Navy person I knew to get more information and yes while keeping my dark thoughts away, playing tennis …The phone rang and all I heard from the other line was “It was him.”  I was formally notified about 5 hours later.  My worst nightmare.

My son, CHARLIE, lived by one main goal, “You must always give 150%”.   And he did with his life and in his death.

Not many fallen warriors get the attention of two Presidents. He was recognized by President Trump and President Obama.

President Obama said, “Charlie joined the SEALs, he told friends, because it was the hardest thing to do…A nation reveals itself not only by the people it produces, but by those it remembers.”

And..

President Trump said, “Charlie carried with him the fierce American Spirit and the timeless values of duty, honor and sacrifice.  We will always remember Charlie as an American Hero for his selfless sacrifice in defense of our nation.”

My son, Charlie, grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona as a regular American boy with a big heart.  He loved everything about life.  At 7 years old he put a Navy SEAL poster up on his wall in his bedroom, because that is what he wanted to be. 

Considering the training is Basic Underwater Demoliton SEA AIR AND LAND (SEAL TEAM)  or BUDS , the first step to the elite warrior training in defense of our country is the toughest training you will ever survive. Out of 370 candidates, only 17 became navy SEALs.

Charlie lived his life giving 150% to his goal that he did achieve.  What is 150%?

Charlie was in a 10-series television show called Outward Bound in Costa Rica.  The eight 14-year-old kids were filmed competing in challenges throughout the rain forest.  The main caveat was that they must work as a team.  At only 14 years old, Charlie tells the group, “You must give 150% or we will not make it”.   So after his friends saw the series, Charlie was known through High School as Mr. 150%!

A life-long dedication to your goal AND the family support system is the only way to achieve your dreams through everyone giving 150%.

My husband, Charlie’s stepfather, is a Bronze Medalist in figure skating.  His mom would drive hours to find a rink open in Chicago to practice morning and evening with his sister.  He could not drive at 7 and his sister pairs partner was 5.  So his mother did this while his father worked many different jobs to support their sport and the coaching.

My children were runners…in Arizona.   Because of the 115 degree-days before cross country season, they would have to run at 5am.  These kids started doing this at age 7 and continued through college. They, like in figure skating, had double workouts in the evenings.

This would be doing 100%.  Now 150% is also during the week weightlifting, eating right, going to bed early, getting your homework done, hill repeats on desert mountain trails, swimming workouts, sit ups, pull ups… and the kids did this.

How did they stay in this routine? They won their races.  And Charlie especially loved to win.  His 150% work ethic helped in him receiving a full scholarship to Indiana University.

When Charlie called me from Indiana University his sophomore year, He said “Mom I am in the best shape of my life. I just broke the 4 minute mile….I’m going to BUDS to become a Navy SEAL.”

When his track coach asked him, “Why are you doing this? You could die.”  He said, “It would be an honor to die for my country.”

It is important to the national defense of our country that our youth know what the constitution means and why our revolutionary war patriots gave their lives to defend our nation when threatened.

How do you raise kids to be passionate about our great country?

Charlie is my modern patriot.  I also have a Revolutionary patriot in my family, LLEYWIN Davis from Pennsylvania. 

So LLEYWIN ran out the door and told his family he was going fight for God, home and country. We need to teach our children, friends and co-workers what Lleywin was fighting for… God, Home and Country…Freedom.

One of the ways I taught my children about our country, is that I would take them to nursing homes and speak to the elderly living there.  Do you know how many veterans are there? 

Charlie would love to see their medals and hear their stories.  We even met a 94-year-old pilot who was a woman and she ferried planes in World War II.  She told us that the secret to a long life is to stay productive.  She knitted blankets for veterans in wheelchairs.

I also would point out to the kids veterans that we would see around town with hats or stickers on their cars. We tell them, “Thank you for your service.”  I still do this today especially at the grocery store. Please do this…it makes their day. 

This came close to home for me.  Last month I had finished grocery shopping and was super tired as I made it to my car to put the groceries in.  ON the handle of the car was a small handwritten note. 

“I noticed your gold star sticker.  I want to thank you for the sacrifice you’ve made for our country. Your loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice will always be remembered by people like me. Thank you”

This person made my day. I was energized.  And appreciative that he or she noticed my gold star bumper sticker. This person gave me 150%.

These small gestures contribute to our National Defense.  I am passing this on to all of you and you go out and do the same thing…it multiplies, and we protect our freedom through action.

Charlie’s Last visit to Ponte Vedra Beach before his last deployment, he spoke to the Environmental Protection Agency about “leadership of his platoon” for their Holiday Party. He was the Platoon Leader going into Iraq.

An example of Charlie’s leadership quotes showing how we can give 150% in Defense of our Nation:

“Its already done, stay proactive.” 

Charlie pointed out that if you finish your job, it really is not over.  You must stay proactive, and he learned that the hard way. 

His team had finished the job for the day and was waiting to be extracted by helicopter in Afghanistan.  They were leaning on a mud wall and looking up.  While behind them, their Muslim interpreter and an American weapon were on the other side of the wall.   A terrorist was making his way silently towards the weapon and the interpreter. Charlie stopped laughing, turned around and saw what was happening. He urgently hopped the wall and ran towards the interpreter AND the weapon, saving the man’s life and retrieving the weapon.

He received the Bronze Star with V for Valor.

What we do also affects other countries.  When I was riding in Charlie’s funeral procession, not only seeing the four rows deep with families and children and professionals waving American flags and holding signs saying thank you, I noticed a line of a different flags going up the long hill to Rose Crans National Cemetery in Point Loma.  They were waving Iraqi flags. 

The Iraqis were so proud and thankful for Charlie saving their village and their lives, that the oldest Christian village of Telskof which stills speaks Jesus’ language of Aramic, rings a “Charlie Keating Freedom bell” every day before mass and they have asked our government for a school and a playground to honor Charlie on the spot where he died.

The Iraqis are giving 150% in defense of our nation.

Whether it’s supporting the education of our students who will be our future leaders and defenders, preserving our history, giving more than 100% at our jobs and volunteer work, providing a care package to those serving, or treating others with encouragement and kindness, these all play an important role in contributing to our National Defense. 

Paid for by Krista Keating-Joseph, Republican for St. Johns County Commissioner – District 4