WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In 1962, those fighting for the legalization of abortion rallied around a children’s television host from Arizona who had taken pills her husband brought back from Europe. The pills were the now-infamous thalidomide, a drug that impacted the development of children in the womb, causing thousands to be born with missing or shortened limbs. The woman became a cause célèbre, and eventually flew to Sweden to end the life of her unborn child.
That same year, and with no fanfare, a young woman in Nicaragua who had been prescribed thalidomide for morning sickness gave birth to a son with no arms. Fitted with prosthetic limbs as a child, at 10 he would shake them off for good because he was more comfortable using his feet.
That child was Tony Melendez, a guitarist and songwriter who for more than 30 years has been inspiring audiences around the nation and world with his talent, his faith, and his witness.
Melendez will perform Jan. 22 during the 22nd annual National Memorial for the Pre-Born and Their Mothers and Fathers at Constitution Hall in D.C. The interdenominational prayer service takes place every year on the morning of the March for Life, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
“Tony played for Pope John Paul II and sang the National Anthem to open a World Series game,” noted Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life and President of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, sponsors of the prayer service. “He is married and a father. Where other people might have seen limits, he saw only opportunity. He is the perfect person to remind our audience – and the world – that every human life has dignity and purpose.”
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback will attend the National Memorial to accept the National Pro-Life Recognition Award on behalf of all the citizens of Kansas and their legislators. Kansas was the first state to pass a law to protect unborn children from dismemberment abortion.
The National Memorial is the premier prayer event marking the tragic commemoration of Roe vs. Wade. For those who wish, there will be a Catholic Mass at 7:30 a.m. Doors open at 7 a.m. Admission is free, no tickets are required, and large groups are welcome.
Organizations co-sponsoring the National Memorial with the National Pro-Life Religious Council and Priests for Life include: American Values, Jubilee Campaign Law of Life Project, Life Issues Institute, Americans United for Life, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), Alliance Defending Freedom and Catholics Called to Witness.
Serving on the Host Committee are: Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council; Gary Bauer, President, American Values; Archbishop Craig W. Bates, Patriarch of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church; Ernie Ohlhoff, National Right to Life Committee; Alveda King, Director of African-American Outreach, Priests for Life; Bradley Mattes, President and CEO, Life Issues Institute; Charmaine Yoest, Ph. D., President and CEO, Americans United for Life; Alan Sears, President, CEO, and General Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom; Dick and Sherley Bott, Bott Radio Network, and Rich Bott, President and CEO, Bott Radio Network.
Constitution Hall is at 1776 D Street NW, at 17th Street. For more information about the National Memorial, go to www.NationalPrayerService.com
Priests for Life is the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.