Peter W. Schramm's "Born American, but in the Wrong Place" | Special Episode

In this special holiday episode of The American Idea, we are privileged to share with you a very special Christmas story.

A story of hope and freedom, of overcoming tyranny and opression, of finding love for a country and its ideas. A story of a boy whose father gave him the gift of America.

This is the story of Peter Schramm.

Peter was born in Hungary in 1946. Fleeing the Soviet invasion of Hungary ten years later, Peter famously asked his father why they were going to America. “Because, son. We were born Americans, but in the wrong place.” He would devote the rest of his life to studying and teaching about what that meant.

He received a B.A. degree from California State University Northridge and went on to earn a Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate School. With the help of figures like Harry Jaffa, Peter came to understand what his father already knew: why – as Peter’s hero Abraham Lincoln put it – America is “the last best hope of Earth.”

Peter was a co-founder of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and became its founding President. He later left Claremont to work for Bill Bennett in the U.S. Secretary of Education under the Reagan administration.

It was at the end of Reagan’s tenure in office that Peter came to Ashbrook. President Reagan famously inaugurated Ashbrook in 1983, but five years in, it was still in its infancy and looking for its purpose. Over time, Peter would give Ashbrook a purpose.

Peter served as the Executive Director of Ashbrook from 1997 to 2013 and a professor of political science at Ashland University until his death in 2015. Under his leadership, Ashbrook grew into a national organization, reaching students, teachers, and citizens in all 50 states.

But his most enduring legacy is the students who he personally challenged and inspired in the classroom to be the best human beings and citizens they can be.

This is Peter’s story, “Born American, but in the Wrong Place,” as recounted by him in 2006.

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

Executive Producer: Greg McBrayer

Producer: Tyler MacQueen