Can A Dream of a Statue that Recognizes the Dignity of the Human Person Through “Mother and Child” Come True in Today’s America?
Some years ago my wife Pat and I were at a Legatus Summit in Florida and on display there were pictures of the beautiful sculptures by internationally known sculptor Timothy Schmalz. We were intrigued by the beauty of his faces and detailed work of even very large sculptures. We had the opportunity to meet the sculptor, and after the conference we returned home still talking about the stories that his work tells.
A few years later we were back for another Summit and Timothy Schmalz was there again. He showed us a new work called “Life Monument,” featuring beautiful Mother and Child in bronze, with the child inside the mother’s womb. It was breathtaking!
Marriage of Beauty and Truth: Seeds of an idea to engage secular culture
We thought about the sculpture overnight and told the sculptor the next day that we wanted him to do a replica of the original Life Monument and bring it to Austin, Texas.
We had thoughts of placing the Life Monument at various locations. We knew it needed to be placed where it would be visible to as many people as possible. It finally came to me, having been a 14-year-member of the Texas House of Representatives, that the Legislature is the principal body that recommends to the State Preservation Board statues of persons, events or organizations of lasting significance to the State of Texas. What is more significant than “life”?
What is more significant than “life”?!
The preamble of our U.S. Declaration of Independence states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
“Life” is the first of the unalienable Rights and without “Life” there can be no Liberty or Pursuit of Happiness.
Making it happen, behind the scenes
In December of 2022 Pat and I were at an event with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and had the opportunity to visit with him and his wife, Cecilia, about the idea of placing the Life Monument on the Capitol grounds. They both thought it was a wonderful idea!
I then visited with leaders of the four largest Texas Pro-Life organizations; namely, Dr. Joe Pojman (Texas Alliance for Life), Greg Sindelar (Texas Public Policy Foundation), Jonathan Saenz (Texas Values), and John Seago (Texas Right to Life). Each agreed it was a worthy cause and it would be good to demonstrate how in Texas the Pro-life organizations can work together to achieve a common purpose.
Representative Tom Oliverson took the lead to be the Author of the Resolution in the Texas State House of Representatives and, using information I provided him, obtained the assistance of Legislative Council to draft the House Concurrent Resolution. He collaborated with Senator Tan Parker who agreed to be Author in the Senate.
Discussions were held with staff of both the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House. Companion Concurrent Resolutions were introduced as HCR 91 and SCR 24, in the State House and Senate respectively. A public hearing was held on SCR 24 on Thursday, March 24, 2023, and the Resolution was explained by Senator Parker.
I was the first witness after the Senator’s explanation and was followed by Dr. Joe Pojman and Jonathan Saenz with in-person testimony. Others registered their support.
Key documents and testimony: Feel free to imitate
In order to garner even more awareness of this proposed resolution in Texas, and also to help anyone interested in bringing a similar resolution to their state, please find a testimony to the value of this resolution and the Concurrent Resolution itself below.
A summary of the testimony is as follows (the full testimony can be found further below):
This is a Resolution that touches every member of this Committee, the entire Senate, the House members, and in fact every person here today and in the State of Texas. Each one of us has or had a mother and each of us cherishes memories about our mother. SCR 24 recognizes the great significance of a woman and the importance of a mother to every family.
Yes, in this fast-paced world we live in today there are stories of tragic situations, but our world is a much better place because of the compassion, courage and love of mothers.
It is through the mother that a child comes into this world. The Life Monument will recognize and elevate the importance of “mother and child” and their significance to our history, as well as to present and future generations of Texans.
There are still many steps to get this Concurrent Resolution through the Legislative process. Please contact your Senator and Representative and ask them to support SCR24 and HCR 91. Also, please pray for its final passage.
I will keep you advised of the progress. Remember with God, anything is possible!
FULL TEXT OF CONCURRENT RESOLUTION AND WRITTEN TESTIMONY:
The Concurrent Resolution:
By: Parker S.C.R. No. 24
WHEREAS, The National Life Monument celebrates the miracle of life and the women at the center of that miracle; and
WHEREAS, Sculpted by artist Timothy Schmalz, the bronze sculpture depicts a mother with an unborn child cradled in a world-shaped womb; and
WHEREAS, The eight-foot bronze statue was permanently installed at the Church of San Marcello al Corso in Rome in May 2022, and after a tour of the U.S., the original Life Monument was installed at the Theological College in Washington, D.C.; and
WHEREAS, Under Chapter 443, Government Code, and rules of the State Preservation Board, a portion of the north Capitol grounds is available for new monuments, subject to legislative approval, specified procedural requirements, the provision of funding from private donors, conformity to certain size and design limitations and parameters, and completion on a timely basis; and
WHEREAS, A replica of the monument on the Capitol grounds would provide a communal place for Texans to celebrate the beauty of human life; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the 88th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby authorize the State Preservation Board, subject to state law and rules of the board, to approve the construction of a replica of the National Life Monument at the State Capitol Complex, at a site outside of the historic Capitol grounds; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the Texas secretary of state forward an official copy of this resolution to the executive director of the State Preservation Board.
Written Testimony – Tim Von Dohlen SCR 24 – March 30, 2023:
My name is Tim Von Dohlen. I am a former 7 term member of the Texas House of Representatives from Goliad, Texas. My wife Patricia and I are the Co-Founders of the John Paul II Life Center in Austin, Texas, a pregnancy help center including the Vitae Clinic, a full-service OB/GYN medical practice, with two full time OB/GYN’s, a Nurse Practitioner, and 2 full time sonographers which accepts women of all faiths without regard to personal ability to pay and embraces each woman in a loving atmosphere. Many of the Center’s clients tell us they have never before been treated with such kindness and respect for their personal dignity. I am appearing here this afternoon in my individual capacity. SCR 24 is absolutely beautiful and wonderful!
This is a Resolution that touches every member of this Committee, the entire Senate, the House members, and in fact every person here today and in the State of Texas. Each one of us has or had a mother and each of us cherishes memories about our mother. SCR 24 recognizes the great significance of a woman and the importance of a mother to every family. Yes, in this fast-paced world we live in today there are stories of tragic situations, but our world is a much better place because of the compassion, courage, and love of mothers. It is through the mother that a child comes into this world. We have recognized on the historic Capitol grounds and within the Capitol complex worthy individuals, organizations, and events of historical significance for our great state. However, the Life Monument will recognize and elevate the importance of “mother and child” and their significance to our history, and present and future generations of Texans.
The Resolution sets out and accomplishes the following:
- Recognizes the dignity of each human life and the deserved profound respect for all human life.
- The internationally renowned sculptor depicts a mother with an unborn child cradled in a world shaped womb.
- Celebrates the miracle of human life with women at the center of that miracle.
- The Life Monument is a commemorative work in the public interest and in the life of future generations of Texans – a subject of lasting statewide significance.
- Recognizes that to have future generations of Texans depends on continuation of human life both female and male.
I want to share three personal experiences I have been a part of regarding women who made all that happened possible:
- In The Greatest Story Ever Told, it all happened because of the courage of one young woman.
- In the life of a talented young OB/GYN female physician who was pregnant with her third child and faced possible loss of her own life due to cancer if her baby was born. She chose life for her child and a short time after the child’s birth the mother died, but today that child is herself an OB/GYN.
- In the lives of the young women who come to the JPII Life Center often daily not knowing from whom or where she can get assistance that then receive material assistance, advocate guidance, transportation, housing, or whatever help she needs to allow her motherly instinct to flourish for her child and herself but cannot focus on because of fear.
I ask this Committee to move SCR 24 forward and approve the Life Monument to be erected in the Capitol complex giving women and her unborn child the recognition they deserve.
Tim Von Dohlen
- Timothy Schmaltz, internationally recognized sculptor
- Life Monument sculpture, created by Timothy Schmaltz
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