Freed Sailor Counts His Blessings


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© Jack Cashill - December 25, 2014

As Roman philosopher Cicero reminded us, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” The fact that Cicero said this more than 2,000 years ago does not make it any less true.

The sentiment endures. The chronic ingrate – and the nightly news abounds in them – cannot practice virtue. He can only mimic the virtues others practice.

One young man who personifies Ciceronian virtue will be spending his first Christmas in 19 years as a fully free man, and the progress Steven Nary has made to date justifies the faith that many readers of this column put in him.

Not to dwell on the past, but Steven, then 18 and still in the U.S. Navy, was arrested in 1996 by San Francisco authorities for killing the serial sexual predator who was trying to rape him.

California justice being what it is, Steven spent the next 17 years in prison. Our collective efforts to alert the powers-that-be of this perversity made no headway.

When no appeal to justice worked, the WND readers who had been following this case chipped in to hire California’s best parole attorney on Steven’s behalf, and Steven was sprung a month before what would have been his 18th Christmas in prison.

Here is what Steven had to say about his experience, unedited by the way. Steven did an excellent job of educating himself during the 17-plus years of his incarceration:

“Every prisoner who had a life sentence at some point believed, whether they want to admit it or not, that they would die in prison or get out after everyone in their lives had passed on. Of course, this didn’t happen in my case.”

“Through all of your hard work and patience, I was able to stay focused, to keep my eye on the prize, and to experience the real miracle. November 13, 2013, walking out those gates and into the real world was amazing.”

“The real miracle is all of you. Thank you, because everyday with you is a daily Christmas. We all come from different walks of life, and different approaches to issues; but it all was unified to allow me to not only get out, but also to be who I am today.”

In October of this year, I had the chance to meet up with Steven in Los Angeles. The terms of his parole are such that he cannot leave the state.

His karma was sufficiently good that we were able to watch my hometown Kansas City Chiefs pummel the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.

Steven was just transitioning into his own apartment after living in a seedy halfway house in downtown Los Angeles for the first year. He now has a loving girlfriend, a semi-skilled job installing solar panels and a car that more or less runs. He is a happy camper.

“Didn’t realize all the little things that go into getting an apartment and living in somewhat a comfortable state,” Steven emailed me afterward, thanking the several people who sent household items to help him get started in his new life.

“The simple joys of life will never be taken for granted,” he wrote. “Today I took the dog to the dog park. It’s good to see they have a place that dogs can run around and enjoy the company of other dogs. Eighteen years ago, there were no dog parks that I remember.”

Today, as I watch young people whining on national TV about ever slight and trivial injustice they claimed to have suffered, I thought it would be a good time to share anew Steven’s words on what it is like to suffer a grotesque injustice and yet rise above it.

“It has been so wonderful to be in everyone’s lives, especially more so with my mom, dad, sister, and other relatives, because I was scared of how our interactions would go,” wrote Steven.

“But it’s been better than I could ever have imagined. It brings me to tears that I could be so blessed. I don’t care how this journey has come, but I embrace it because God is working a miracle in each of our lives, and we just have to stop questioning it and welcome it.”

“The real miracle is God’s love for you and your journey. May I be blessed to assist you as you all have assisted me. Thank you all so, so, so much. Love you all. Happy New Year.”

If you wish to contact Steven, please email Dave Holt at

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