The March for Life is the largest annual national gathering of pro-life individuals. It is a protest march held in Washington D.C. in late January. (This date is chosen to commemorate the handing down of the Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973. That case determined that women have the right to an abortion under the 14th amendment, and that states have limited rights to interfere depending on the trimester of the pregnancy.)
I have been blessed enough to attend that March for Life three times. The first time was in 2013, the second in 2015, and the third in 2017. It is absolutely incredible to be around such an immense crowd of people who value life in the same way that I am. We are most unified by our stance against abortion, but the diversity present at the March is incredible. There are groups of people who proclaim their identities as Catholics, Christians, Jews, atheists, scientists, feminists, post-abortive mothers, and so much more. All kinds of creeds arrive to demonstrate their support for the preservation and sanctity of life.
Each March that I’ve been to is tied to specific moments and memories. In 2013, I most prominently remember walking through light snowfall praying a rosary with my theology teacher. This was my first year of high school and my first time at the March, and I was in awe. We were probably three quarters of the way through the course of the March when my teacher offered to lead some other students and I in a rosary. Throughout the decades, the jostling of the crowd scattered us, and I ended up being the only one who made it through the whole series of prayers with her.
2013 was a very cold year, but 2015 was surprisingly warm. The defining moment for that year’s March in my head was standing around at the start of the March before our walking really got under way, and one of my friends stripped off layer after layer until she was just wearing leggings and athletic shorts because it was so warm, we didn’t need to be swaddled in endless fabric anymore. We all stuffed extra clothes into our bags, which puffed up like microwaved marshmallows and looked absolutely absurd on our backs.
2017 is the freshest and the most courageous year for me. The previous two times, I had attended the March with my high school. We left directly from campus, were chaperoned at all times, traveled in a group, and had a specific itinerary that we kept to at all times. In 2017, I attended the March with my college diocese. They organized a bus to go down to D.C., and I was the only person I knew who signed up. I walked 45 minutes to get to the departure point, and our trip was significantly longer than I was used to because I was much father north than before. We would drive through the night, arrive in the morning to explore freely, march, and then return to the bus and drive through the next night to get home in the morning. This freedom was intimidating for me, but I made friends with the woman I sat next to on the way, so we were travel buddies and found our way together. This was the first time I attended the March for Life Expo, and I got so many free stickers and resources, it was incredible!
My strongest memory from that March, though, was truly a glory story. After a long night of driving, our bus stopped in a parking lot around 4 in the morning to let us get an early breakfast before we got into the city. We stopped at a rest stop along the highway somewhere in Maryland, and I was sitting at a table nibbling my way through some hasbrowns when I heard a voice say “Hauer? Is that you?”
I turned around, and two girls from my high school were standing behind me. We squealed hello and hugged, and I realized that more and more faces I recognized were all around the rest area. My high school’s bus had arrived, completely by chance, at the exact same rest stop at the exact same time to get food, so I was able to connect with some friends and mentors at 4 in the morning before marching during the day.
I have a few photos from that year, which I’ll include below, but my favorite media from it was actually not produced by me. Students for Life of America set up a camera viewing the street and compiled a time lapse of the whole March. Check it out!
The March for Life is a fantastic and meaningful experience for which I am always grateful. I really hope to be able to return next year, but moreover, I really hope that someday soon the March will transform from a yearly protest to an annual celebration of victory because true change has been made!