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Marching for life in D.C.

At least 100,000 pro-life supporters took part in Friday’s March for Life in downtown Washington, D. C. For the first time, I was among them.

The March for Life is an annual event that protests Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark ruling that legalized abortion in the United States. It is the biggest pro-life event in the country, first organized in 1974 by activist Nellie Gray to mark the one-year anniversary of the ruling.

Before this year’s event, Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, told Fox News they never anticipated they’d still be marching all these years later: “Today, we grieve the loss of life. But it’s also an enthusiastic time. We’re changing hearts and minds.”

D.C. doesn’t stop for marches. Even as the pre-march rally went on, runners crossed the sidewalks along Constitution Avenue. Tour buses hissed their air brakes. Traffic snarled (with us in the mix). 

That’s why we missed some of the big stuff. President Donald Trump spoke to the crowd via live-stream from the White House — a first in the march’s 44-year history. House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the lawmakers in attendance: “We strive to make our time in Congress a march for life itself. We strive to fight for the unborn, to pass important pro-life legislation through Congress, to work with the Trump administration, to pass pro-life legislation and laws.”     

Then the march began, stretching all the way from the National Mall to the Supreme Court steps. Participants were a varied lot — school groups, Catholic priests, Jews with those caps they wear. A mother of nine pushing a stroller. Elderly couples walking hand in hand. Teenagers shouting, “WE . . .  ARE . . . THE PRO-LIFE GENERATION!” A group of young men chanting in unison, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!”

With the Washington Monument behind him, marcher Thomas McKay told me his Christian faith inspired him to travel from St. Michael, Minnesota, to attend the event for the first time: “God is the giver, and sustainer and goal of every human life. Praise God for the gift of life.”

The Brookhaven area had other representatives there besides my crew — a set of Jayess sisters that are part of the “pro-life generation” that has everybody talking. Three of Brad and Sally Pope’s daughters made the trip with the help of Dana Chisolm, president of Pro-Life Mississippi.   

“It was really encouraging to be surrounded by so many people who see value in every single human life,” Gracie, 18, later told me. “It was also encouraging to hear some of our elected officials speaking out for unborn babies.”

Clancy, 16, agreed. “I just hope the march wasn’t the end of their pro-life work, but instead energized them to end baby murder in America.”

Many marchers carried signs. Their words explain what the march was about better than my laptop ever could.

Take my hand, not my life.

No human is a mistake.

Jews don’t choose genocide.

Your body, my first home.

Abortion isn’t empowerment.

Make womb for love.

I will use my voice for those who cannot speak.

Good thing my mom was pro-life.

I love storks.

I am pro-abundant life.

So on a cloudless, sunny day in downtown DC, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, marchers marched. Drums beat. A jumbotron broadcast. Christians prayed. Photographers snapped pictures.

And a crowd surged toward the Supreme Court Building where that awful decision was handed down in 1973, resulting in the death of nearly 60 million babies in the 45 years since. 

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.