By Dave Andrusko
It would be difficult to imagine a better way to inaugurate the move of the annual Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner to Washington, D.C., than to honor entertainer and pro-life stalwart Pat Boone and to hear a laudatory speech from pro-life Vice President Richard Cheney.
To make it easier for members of Congress to attend, the 11th annual dinner, sponsored by the NRL Educational Trust Fund, was moved from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City to the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel in the nation's capital. The evening could not have been any better.
One small anecdote may illustrate how enjoyable was the April 20 gathering. Needless to say, with the Vice President of the United States in attendance, there was plenty of security on hand.
But a veteran reporter called NRLC's communications department the next day to offer congratulations. The reporter had been at many such gatherings where high-ranking officials were in attendance and said that none had gone as smoothly.
Mr. Boone is best known to pro-lifers for his video, A Better Way, in which he interviewed women whose circumstances are often cited as reasons for abortion but who chose life. In the 1980s he released his pro-life song, "Let Me Live," to universal pro-life acclaim.
Mr. Boone was his usual quietly inspirational self. He has that special knack for choosing the most relevant passages from Scripture and applying their principles to our present battle against the evil of abortion in a uniquely moving way. Every time audiences hear him, they come away refreshed and renewed.
The standing ovation that greeted the Vice President was so long and sustained that Mr. Cheney quipped, "Your dinner is getting cold."
Oddly enough, the New York Times's account thoughtfully captured the context, flavor, and importance of the Vice President's remarks.
"Coming in the buildup to what organizers have called the March for Women's Lives on Sunday, Mr. Cheney's speech amounted to an unapologetic line in the sand," the Times reported. "His praise for the anti-abortion cause, one of Mr. Bush's most loyal bases of support, was unstinting."
Mr. Cheney told the audience, "For 31 years, the National Right to Life Committee has led a great movement of conscience, and your good influence is felt not just within our country, but also in other nations and international institutions." Alluding to the spirit that infuses our cause and the breadth and depth of the Movement, Mr. Cheney observed, "This cause, like others before it, reflects the compassion of our country, and our commitment to equality and to the dignity of every life. The convictions that drive this organization are broad and generous. And the same is true of the coalition that you've built." (You can read his full remarks on page 30.)
The dinner itself was, as always, delicious. The fellowship was, as always, a source of joy. And the messages from Vice President Cheney and Mr. Boone alternatively brought the audience to tears and to their feet.
Adding to the excitement were the always amusing, highly inspirational remarks from Ben Stein. Himself a previous honoree and Master of Ceremonies, Stein's all-out, all-engines, running embrace of the cause of life reminded the audience that his passion for unborn children is second to none. He is in the best sense of the term a true believer who has dedicated a significant portion of his life to championing the cause of life.
The Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner is that magically special night in which the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund honors leaders in the right to life movement. In accepting his award Mr. Boone joined an illustrious list.
Previous recipients include Archbishop Renato Martino, Dr. James Dobson, Mrs. Arthur DeMoss, John Cardinal O'Connor, Gov. Robert Casey, Congressman Henry Hyde, Senator Bob Smith, Congressman Christopher Smith and Congressman Charles Canady, Judge Robert Bork, Mr. Virgil Dechant of the Knights of Columbus, Senator Jesse Helms, Mr. Wellington Mara of the New York Football Giants, Mr. Thomas S. Monaghan, and Bishop James T. McHugh, Mr. Lawrence Garvey, and Fr. Frank Pavone.
The Trust Fund has also paid special tribute to Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and President Ronald Reagan.
But there was still one more dramatic highlight. The song, "I Gave You Up," is a haunting lament, which exposes the heartbreak of women who tragically, have aborted their babies. Sung by Mrs. Diane Derrick Kimble, it reminded us in an unforgettable way why we are concerned about both mother and unborn baby.
In a small but significant way, the NRL Educational Trust Fund was able to express the gratitude of all pro-lifers for these great champions of life. Thank you, Vice President Richard Cheney, Pat Boone, and Ben Stein.