By Steve Deace
It was Christmas 1972 when a 14-year-old girl discovered she was pregnant by her high school senior boyfriend. She was scared and didn’t know what to do.
She came from a poor family that lived in what used to be called “the south side bottoms.” In other words, the wrong side of the tracks. Her mother was twice-divorced with five kids, which was scandalous back then, and they all lived with her grandparents in a home too small for such a crowd.
She considered having one of those illegal abortions she had heard about. And then a month later she seemingly had an even easier choice to make once Roe v. Wade came down from the U.S. Supreme Court. Why not just terminate this pregnancy? She was still a child herself after all. And since prenatal technology was just in its infancy stages back then, we didn’t then know the things about a baby’s development we know now. Maybe this thing growing inside of her was really just an unviable tissue mass, right?
But against all odds, this young girl decided to have her baby. Shortly before noon on July 28, 1973, the now 15-year old Vickie gave birth to a son at Iowa Lutheran Hospital. She named him Steven.
That baby is me.
I wish I could tell you we all lived happily ever after, but we did not. Sure, my mom would now say I was maybe the best mistake she ever made. That doesn’t erase the broken road we traveled, though. Being a teenage single mother in 2015 is hard enough, let alone 42 years ago.
My mom eventually married a Navy sailor she met while out in California. It is from him that I get my last name. He did his best to raise me but was dealing with his own demons. He had grown up in a home of abuse – both physical and emotional. Since that was the fatherhood modeled to him, it was therefore the fatherhood too often modeled to me as well.
I was the classic overachiever looking for his daddy’s approval growing up. I played sports, made the honor roll, and even had time for a job. Nobody gave me anything and I earned everything I had. But once I left home and went away to college I discovered I didn’t really have an identity. There was nothing driving me to deliver on whatever potential I had. I flunked out of school and in the years that followed, gained well over a hundred pounds, and was working for temp agencies and mailrooms.
That should’ve been strike three.
Nobody who knew me 20 years ago would have any idea I’d be where I’m at, doing what I’m doing right now. The social data tells you it’s tough enough to overcome being born out of wedlock and then raised by an abusive step-father, let alone overcoming your own inadequacies and failures, but I hit the triple-crown of dysfunction. And still more, this was multi-generational dysfunction, which has helped destroy a lot of the cultures we send missionaries to these days.
Yet nowadays I know men running for president of these United States on a first-name basis. I write for national platforms. I host one of the top 100 talk shows in America. I have a wonderful marriage with three amazing children. Well, except for our oldest, who is now a whiny teenager. She’s been downgraded to mostly amazing for the time being.
My worldview says that with God all things are possible, but nowhere is such a rags-to-riches story possible except for here in America. For nowhere else on earth provides the unique combination of God-given freedom and opportunity that makes overcoming such formidable odds possible. My life should be a cautionary tale for why succumbing to our base desires and fallen nature is a bad idea. Instead, it’s one of inspiration. Just another reminder the American Dream does come true.
Yes, I had to take advantage of the moments when they arrived. But nowhere else on earth would such moments have arrived. There’s a reason almost everything that is the greatest in the world comes from here. We even produced arguably the greatest evangelist of all time in Billy Graham.
This isn’t just a unique personal tale, though. I’m also “America Proud” because my story is not an outlier. Many of you reading this have overcome similar or even greater odds to gain access to the American Dream. As de Tocqueville once observed, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”
America gives us that same ability as well. I’m living proof of that. But that legacy is in mortal danger at the moment.
That’s why this month many of us in the conservative movement are taking part in #AmericaProud. I’ve now shared with you my story, which explains where my passion for this country and her future comes from. This July, I encourage you to share your stories as well. Those who oppose American Exceptionalism can distort statistics and spread propaganda, but there’s no corrupting someone’s earnest personal testimony.
This is not just a country worth dying for. It’s also worth living for. The men who made America possible in the first place pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honors to make it so. As Founding Father John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, the night before they ratified the Declaration of Independence:
(Independence Day) will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other. From this time forward forever more. You will think me transported with enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that Posterity will triumph in that days’ transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.
Let us not become the ingrates that Adams feared “should rue” the Exceptionalism passed onto us and paid for on numerous occasions by the spilling of blood. Other than the church, America has been the human institution responsible for the most good in this world. That is a legacy worth preserving.
That is a legacy to be proud of.
Steve Deace “is a rising star” that represents “the next generation” in conservative media.
Steve Deace was influential in the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses and has been prominently featured on national media outlets.
His nationally-syndicated “Steve Deace Show” is heard in five of the top 10 markets in the country. Deace’s newly released book is titled: Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.
Steve Deace has been a contributor for USA Today, Politico, Business Insider, Breitbart, WND, Townhall, and The Washington Times. He’s been a guest pundit on all three major cable news networks as well.
Steve Deace lives in Iowa which provides him with a grassroots conservative perspective often lacking in a beltway media culture.