Although the commemoration was a somber remembrance of the 55+ million lives lost under Roe v. Wade and those left deeply injured, it was also a joyful time of great musical performances and encouragement.
Country music superstar and out-spoken right-to-life advocate Collin Raye received an enthusiastic standing ovation after a delivering a tremendous assortment of his hit songs and a number of recently recorded sacred numbers. “You know friends,” Raye told the audience, “this fight we are in to save lives often seems like an impossible uphill battle. We have a lot of forces organized against us. And yet, we have something working for us the other team doesn’t, God’s promises.” He encouraged those gathered to “hang in there” because “we’ll win this thing yet.”
Moving comments and prayers were offered by Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Donald J. Hying and Brodie Swanson, Associate Pastor for Children’s and Family Ministry at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield Wisconsin (where the event was held). In addition, Barbara Lyons, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life, recounted the horrible assault on human life that is the Roe v. Wade decision.
“Tonight we remember and honor those precious lives,” Lyons said. “We remember also those scarred by abortion. Too many women wounded emotionally and physically, anguishing over decisions made to kill their children. Women forced to have abortions. Inconsolable fathers who could do nothing to stop the abortion of their children. Stunned parents deprived of cherished grandchildren. Children lamenting the loss of siblings who will not grow up with them. Doctors who performed thousands of abortions, and then live with shameful remorse for what they have done. Countless stories, each with their own painful, heart-wrenching circumstances. We remember them all tonight in our hearts and prayers — and by our presence.”
Capping off the evening was a rousing and yet touching performance by the Grammy-nominated, chart-topping, Dove Award-winning Christian rock band Sanctus Real. Lead singer and song writer for the group, Matt Hammitt, recounted the birth of his son, Bowen who was born with a serious and rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped.
“When my wife Sarah had ultrasounds before Bowen was born,” Hammitt explained, “the doctors came to us with this news. They told us we should think about how to make a good decision about [terminating] Bowen.” Hammitt explained that there was never any question. “We told the doctors we love Bowen just the way he is and whatever God brings our way with him, we’ll love him just the same.”
“All life is precious,” Hammitt told the audience, “it’s an honor for us to be able to be here to perform for all of you who are working so hard in this effort.”
A number of organizations participated as partners with Wisconsin Right to Life in presenting the Concert for Life, including Relevant Radio, Green Bay; The Nazareth Project, Respect Life Ministry, Archdiocese of Milwaukee; Office of Ministries and Social Concerns, Diocese of La Crosse; Project Rachael; National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing; Rosary Evangelization Apostolate; Women’s Care Center of Madison; Women’s Care Center of Milwaukee; Eyewitness for Life, Ltd.; Care Net Pregnancy Center of Milwaukee; Hartford Pregnancy Help Center; Evangelical Child and Family Agency; A Place of Refuge Ministries; Care Net Family Resource Center of Racine/Kenosha; Tomorrow’s Choice Family Resource Center; and Milwaukee Birthright.
“Wisconsin Right to Life says a hearty thank you to all these organizations,” Lyons said, “not only for sharing in a great night of reflection, prayer and music, but also for their continuing dedication to saving babies and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion.
“Reflection on what Roe has wrought is important, but despair and apathy are not options. With unfailing trust in God, now is the time to commit, or re-commit, to the right-to-life cause.”