The first March for Life was held in 1974. 45 years later, I got the opportunity to join over 200,000 other people as we marched down Constitutional Avenue advocating for the unborn.
This was the first march I’ve ever been able to participate in and let me tell ya, it was life changing!
The first thing that stood out to me about the March was how loving and accepting all the marchers were. Again, I have never marched before so I don’t have any previous experience to compare this to. However, I have read and seen instances online where other marches quickly become hateful, vulgar, or downright violent.
The March for Life was made up of families, religious groups, and young college students who presented an overall message of love and acceptance. When Dr. Kathi Aultman, a retired OBGYN who performed thousands of abortions during her practice, came on stage and told her testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness, the crowd went wild. The crowd was equally ecstatic when Abby Johnson, a former clinic director of Planned Parenthood, came on stage and shared about her nonprofit: “And Then There Were None” as well as her new movie “Unplanned” (in theaters March 29th).
The amount of love and respect the crowd had for these two women was astonishing and incredibly hopeful.
Other highlights consisted of seeing Ben Shapiro and the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence!
Yet, it was not the speakers or the marching that held the most amazement for me. It was a small moment, a quick interaction, that will remain the most significant memory.
The school group I had met up with, left to go back to my friend’s house where they had all stayed the night to grab their things. Since I had come up that morning I stayed in the city.
Sitting alone in front of Union Station, contently eating my peanut butter and Nutella sandwich, I listened to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin. An older couple sat down not too far from me.
The wife left to find the group which they had come with. Through my headphones, I could hear the man ask me something. I took out one of my earbuds and he asked again if I had come alone or if I was with a group. I explained my situation and he nodded. We began talking, and he told me that he and his wife had been attending the March for Life with their church every year for the last thirty years!
He told me (before any official numbers had been released) that this was the largest march he had ever seen. In the middle of my excited response, we were distracted by two young Catholic priests riding by on Lime Scooters exclaiming how they were “for sure going to be a Twitter sensation.”
After a short side conversation about where you charge Lime Scooters, the older gentleman began to tell me how the marchers have been getting younger and younger every year. “It’s encouraging to see the younger generation taking up the fight.” He said, “without them, there is no way this cause will succeed.”
I asked if he had ever participated in any other kind of march and he said no. “This is the only march that I see value in.” He said, “this is the only march that can bring real change.”
He asked if I was involved in any pro-life organizations. I told him besides signing up for Students for Life I was not really involved in anything. The man told me how important it is to do something besides simply attending the march. He and a few of his retired friends go to the Planned Parenthood in their county and get the opportunity to talk to the men that come in with their girlfriends who have to wait in the waiting room.
“So many people forget about the men,” he told me, “They need to be taught how to be fathers just as much as women need to be taught how to be mothers. Me and my friends get to offer parenting classes to these guys.”
We talked a little bit about the public policy on abortion before his wife returned with the rest of their church group. I was able to take a group picture for them. Before getting on his bus, the gentleman turned to say goodbye. We exchanged names and then went on our separate ways.
While it was a short interaction, it was powerful. It was a reminder that my generation has a lot of power to sway the course of our society. There are many moving pieces in this cause that must be carefully considered and remembered. It affects not only women and children, but also men.
Getting to go the march inspired me to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Even if it is not popular or does not align with current cultural trends. The event was hopefully energetic and I cannot wait to go back next year to experience it all over again.
“Righteousness doesn’t have to be popular, it just has to be righteous.” – Ben Shapiro; March for Life 2019