Marching for Life (Issue 3)May 5, 2011 No Comments
Marching for Life
By John Mahoney
Contributor | Naples, FL
Article featured in Issue 3 of Maria News Magazine
When I left Florida for Washington D.C. in the middle of January, I made sure to prepare physically by packing lots of warm clothing, but as I sat on the plane I wondered whether I was ready emotionally for experience that lay ahead in the land of our forefathers.
There was an aura of excitement as we landed in our Nation’s Capital. Fifty Ave Maria Law students including myself were eager to proudly March for Life! We were ready to make history yet again in the annual gathering of Pro-Life protestors expressing their grievances towards current abortion policy. Marching through the city to the steps of the Supreme Court is a very popular and powerful form of protest, especially when 400,000 people show up to participate. The march was scheduled for Monday, but since we arrived on Saturday we filled the time with other adventures and educational endeavors.
Our first night in town, we were invited to an exclusive Ave Maria Law alumni gathering at the famous National Press Club. The Club is located in the National Press Building and is renowned for its legacy of visits by U.S. Presidents and other distinguished diplomats the world over. When we first entered the club, we were greeted by security that directed us onto a secret elevator and went to the highest floor of this huge building. This meeting was a great opportunity to network and overall a very classy way to start our D.C trip.
Sunday’s itinerary had several options and our team leaders neatly compiled a list of recommended activities and directions to reach these destinations. Not wanting to waste a single moment of the day, I chose to attend an early morning Mass with several other classmates at a small Church across the Potomac River. Immediately afterwards, we explored the historic campus of Georgetown University. The school is over 200 years old and the cold campus air smelled of accomplishment and the buildings were very distinguished looking as if they had only ripened with age.
Sunday afternoon arrived and we took the Metro to a Convention Center where my classmates and I sat together in a small personal meeting room as Congressman Chris Smith delivered a very powerful and compelling speech. He geared his address towards the legal arguments that support the pro-life movement. “We will win in the law […] so let’s keep chipping away until the walls of injustice crumble,” he opened. He continued the discussion by paralleling our countries current pro-choice policies with that of China’s current one child per family laws. China is currently having a difficult time keeping an equal female to male population, and if this trend continues it ,will lead to millions of Chinese men unable to find wives. He then described several legal solutions that could solve our countries abortion problem, but he cautiously reminded us that the women who choose abortion are not evil, but the industry soliciting and performing abortions that is the evil. He concluded by charging us, the law students, with helping solve this problem because one good lawyer can make a difference in this fight, but a great group of lawyers can change history! This was a truly moving speaking engagement and we were all very touched.
March Monday had finally arrived, a day that our school had planned and prepared for all year long. The hours of prayer and the fervent fundraising efforts had finally paid off and we were now on our way to meet the crowds at the historic National Mall. Weather reports were predicting a chilly afternoon in downtown D.C. so we brought warm hats and gloves along with our rosaries. The outdoor mall seemed to stretch for miles and it looked like every inch was jam-packed with an array of Pro-Life supporters. There was so much diversity present as I saw people of all different ages, genders, and races. It also appeared that some of these people had traveled from all over the world. Although, I think the young people (of college and high school age) were the most prominent group. Overall, this was truly an incredible example of organization and cooperation. Everyone was energized and excited despite the bitter coldness of the day.
Now, there was a giant stage area set up at the end of the National Mall closest to the capital building. This is where they were hosting what I called a “Pro-life Pep Rally,” where the leaders, collaborators, and other distinguished orators of the movement gave inspirational speeches to the protestors. The speeches were a mix of emotion, passion, morality, and politics which uplifted the spirits of the crowd and got everyone ready to march to the steps of the Supreme Court and demand justice. Our group, Ave Maria School of Law, was very close to the starting point since we were asked to be one of the first groups to march down Constitution Avenue. After a few hours, the speeches were over and the march was readied for action.
Some of my classmates had the honor of carrying the official parade flags, which marked the beginning of the marching line. Following directly behind them was a handful of prominent Politicians who came to show support for the cause. This also served as a reminder that there are pro-life government representatives who remained strong. Once the political officials were settled in, our group took its place line. We didn’t stay in third place for long though, as immediately after we lined up we were being pushed backwards to make room for another group. This mysterious group dawned all black attire and very sullen faces, they forced their way into the line, which was now getting crazier as the crowd started packing in like sardines. I was beginning to get a bit agitated when one of the sad women in black turned around and said to me “I really hate the fact that we have to squeeze in front of you happy young kids, it kills me inside.” Then this woman proceeded to show me a sign she was holding that read, “I regret my abortion!” I was instantly overcome with a mixed array of emotions. I felt bad for her and angry at the same time, it was a very morally confusing. After a moment, I came to and realized that these feelings were in essence the nature of the pro-life battle. Then, as this woman turned back around, the crowd began to move forward and the March for Life was officially beginning.
The actual walk from the National Mall to the Supreme Court was only about a mile and a half, but seemed much longer because of the snail-like pace at which we inched forward. There was a heavy police force put in place to protect and direct the crowd, but I did not notice any pro-choice opposition present. I did take note of the many priests and clergy who had gathered groups to walk together in deep prayer. I also witnessed some wild teens walking while singing in unison to songs blaring from an iPod. There was literally a wall of people moving down the street and I couldn’t help but feel happy being surrounded by so many people supporting the same cause. I also felt very patriotic as we walked by all the official Senate buildings. I noticed that one Senator was standing outside on the balcony with his family waving to us as we marched on. I felt the presence of the Holy Mother all around me so I silently said a Hail Mary and proceeded to climb the steep road that led to the Supreme Court.
I was pushed all the way up to the steps of the Supreme Court building before being ushered onwards down the street to keep the flow of traffic moving. In the hysteria of the March, I had lost my group and wasn’t quite sure if the March was over now. This was a very anti-climatic ending to a very emotional experience; I didn’t receive a hand-shake or even a pat on the back for what I had done. This bummed me out because I wanted to feel like I had accomplished something. But maybe point of all this was to address the huge problem in our country and wasn’t a celebration. This march was about the persecution of the fetal livelihood. I regained my happiness that I had marched and that I had stood up for what was right, but even as I found my group again, I wondered if a fetus in was being aborted somewhere at that very moment. It was honestly a bittersweet moment for all of us, and as we left together, we felt a little heavy. Although the March was over, the fight was still going on and we were right in the center of ground zero. The congratulations we received were not a nice hallmark card, but a draft card, enlisting us in the army of advocates that seek to protect the unborn life. This year’s March for Life may have ended at the steps to the Supreme Court, but one day we pray that the battle will be won inside the building.
Even though I didn’t buy any souvenirs, I did gain something much greater, a cause for life. I now possess a deeper level of appreciation for life and gained much respect for those who dedicate their time to help in these enormous efforts. As we boarded the plane back to Florida, we reflected on the intense weekend we had just shared. The words of the Congressman had tuned our ears to the harsh realities of this struggle and the actual March revealed the true pain of the entire country. The plane was a bit heavier on the way back because of the extra luggage we now carried in our hearts.
Tags: abortion, ave maria school of law, John Mahoney, March for Life, Maria News Magazine, MariaNews.com, Pro Life, Roe v. Wade, Washington DCFeatured Article, Issue 3