By Annie Dadosky, Executive Editor for Clarifying Catholicism
The March for Life. What is it? When is it? Where is it? Why is it? All very good questions, my dear reader, allow me to explain. The March for Life, perhaps contrary to what you thought when you first heard the name, it is not an entire month dedicated to Life nor is it in March. It takes place on one day in January in our nation’s ever lively capital, Washington D.C. It was organized to promote the dignity of all human life and as a response to the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade which declared abortions legal. It is a gathering of people from all over the country who believe that the right to life should extend to those who do not have a voice to speak for themselves. One way this March is unique is because it has been happening annually without fail since 1974, making it the longest running annual march in D.C.
This year’s estimate number of attendees has not yet been released but personally speaking, this one seemed to be the biggest. Unfortunately, I was not near enough to the official stage to hear what was being said, but Vice President Mike Pence did speak, creating a historic moment for the March; never before had someone in such a high office come to speak. To make it even greater was that President Donald Trump also mentioned the March to a news anchor, commenting on how little media coverage the March gets.
But let’s put politics aside. What is it actually like to participate in the March for Life? Personally, one of my favorite parts is seeing how many priests, seminarians, novices and religious sisters attend. This year I found myself walking besides a group of Franciscan friars, some of who were not wearing shoes. One friar had a very large crack in his heel that I’m sure must have been painful, but he did not limp or lag behind. The whole time I was next to them, they were signing. They started off with Gregorian chant, but at one point they started to sing a very up-beat Spanish song. They were so joyful. This was my second run-in with these friars, the first time I had seen them was during my first March. It was freezing and there was snow on the ground but they still did not wear any shoes.
So there was my ten cents. How can the March be described overall? The only way I know how is to simply say, it really is beautiful. At first glance it may not seem so. It’s crowded, it can be confusing if you don’t know where to go, it usually is very cold, food lines are extremely long no matter where you go, and unless you go deeper into the city forget about using the restroom. We don’t get on TV; we don’t get souvenirs (unless your group made a custom t-shirt or you hang onto a sign); and since it has been happening since 1974 it seems like we don’t get acknowledged. How can I, then, still describe it as beautiful?
It’s beautiful to see how many people truly cherish humanity. We aren’t marching so that we can gain something for ourselves; we march to gain the most basic opportunity of living life for people we have never met, with an emphasis on the children who haven’t come into the world yet. We march for them, for their mothers and fathers and also for the elderly. Schools, church groups, families, priests and religious sisters all come to D.C. They give up time not just from school or work but from their very lives in order to walk for one single afternoon for the people who cannot. I would describe the tone of the crowd as one of joy, sadness and hope. Joy at the life we have been gifted with, sadness that exterminating life is still legal in our country but hope that the eternal law and Truth of the sanctity of life will be discovered and translated back into our earthly law.
Don’t know what a Franciscan or a friar is? Wondering what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God? Or wondering what “the dignity/sanctity of human life” means? If this post brings any questions to your mind, let us know!