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Elegy for an Unknown Warrior

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Tomorrow, the parishioners of Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, Md. will lay Michael Schwartz to rest.

Although you've probably never heard his name, Mike Schwartz was the "man to see" in the pro-life movement.


Mike liked being anonymous, though he spent a good part of his career as chief of staff to a well-known public figure, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). From his position beside the senator, Mike made it his mission to tenaciously follow every jot and tittle of proposed law and funding that might impact the mission of saving innocent lives. Nothing escaped his eagle eye for mischief, whether it was a midnight amendment the Left snuck in to allow some taxpayer funding of abortion, or ultrasound regulations that might inadvertently hinder the good work of pregnancy care centers.

For Mike, the ultimate question was always, "How many lives will this save?" And save many lives he undoubtedly did.

He did it through a formidable combination of winsome coalition building and years of quiet bulldoggedness against compromising with abortion that can only be described as "Churchillian."

His door was always open. If you were concerned about anything in the pro-life movement, Mike had an open ear and sound counsel. If you were tapped out and needed fresh ideas, Mike had those, too.

I went to see Mike in 2008, when I had just entered the movement in earnest as a full-time occupation. A new friend, a long-time operative in the movement, had taken me under his wing—undoubtedly able to spot an idealist who needed a lesson in the trench warfare of the abortion kulturkampf. So he took me up the Hill to see Mike.

In our first conversation and later ones, too, I learned to appreciate Mike's blunt (and occasionally salty) assessments. He sat me down at Coburn's outsized conference table and said, "Look, this is a war of attrition. Roe v. Wade may or may not be overturned any time soon, but we can't sit around waiting for that to happen. We have to try everything we can to reduce abortions and save babies, and we have to be in it for the long haul, whether this takes 10 years or 50 years or a hundred. We have to do this because it's right, and because God tells us to."


"Sir, yes, sir" is about the only apt response to a verbal muster like that one.

Mike's work is now done, and God has given him rest from two monumental struggles: one against abortion and the other against the disease that took his life, ALS, or "Lou Gehrig's disease."

Requiescant in pace, my friend. The balustrades of Heaven's gates are filled with the eager faces of the cast off little Cosettes and Gavroches, the "undesired" ones lost to abortion, waiting to welcome you home and thank you for standing on the barricades for them. Rest on, assured that we will not rest, we will not back down, we will not give up, until every one of them is safe. We know you wouldn't have it any other way.

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