On Saturday, March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation and the International Day of the Unborn Child, New York City hosted a crowd of walkers witnessing to the sanctity of life.
A Marian blue sky shined above the men, women and children participating in the International Gift of Life Walk as they trod the City's cold, hard concrete streets, weaving in and out of valleys nestled between towering glass and steel skyscrapers,
Nearly a thousand walkers gathered at Manhattan's Foley Square (aka Thomas Paine Park) at Lafayette Street and Worth Street and walked down Broadway. The rally lasted from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
They were joined by 100 Blue Knights, a pro-life motorcycle group and a dozen pro-life floats. Encouragingly, a great number of participants were elementary school children, high school and college students―some of whom traveled from as far away as Connecticut, New Jersey and even Washington, DC. It was apparent to all who walked and otherwise witnessed the Walk that America's youth are increasingly pro-life.
Over a dozen pro-life organizations participated in the Walk, including some carrying a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in recognition of the Solemnity that celebrates the Incarnation of the Word of God.
Next in the Walk's line-up was the colorful “Gift of Life Float” festooned with pink and blue balloons. The Walk's three Grand Marshals, Dr. Alveda King of Priest for Life, EMC Directors Chris and Eileen Slattery, and Tim Jaccard of Baby Safe Havens, followed.
Other pro-life organizations proudly carried their banners including Students for Life, the St. Barnabas Church Respect Life Committee and the Children First Foundation.
According to the Walk for Life website, the International Gift of Life Walk ― NYC is a pro-life Walk that doesn't shy away from the self-evident proclamation that all humans are “made in the Image and Likeness of God.”
The walkers were accompanied by the horns-and-drums marching band of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP). Founded in 1973, the TFP calls itself “one of the world's largest anticommunist and antisocialist networks of Catholic inspiration.”
The TFP was inspired by the work of the Brazilian intellectual, politician and activist Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.
The Register spoke with Chris Slattery, one of the Walk's organizers.
“The March was a great success,” said Slattery. “We subsequently found out that many thousands of others followed us on social media. Our principle purpose was to witness to and support the sanctity of life and to bring awareness to the issues facing children in the womb and mothers-to-be.”
“The NYPD did an extraordinary job. Sideliners were interested and engaged in our Walk,” he added.
On Friday, March 24, the day before the Walk, Dawn Eskew, one of its organizers organized a “Bringing America Back to Life Convention” at the Long Island Marriot Hotel in Uniondale, which featured a number of speakers and exhibitions.
“Our Walk wasn't a march,” explained Ms. Eskew, one of the Walk's promoters and main organizers. “In fact, we purposely stayed away from that terminology. We wanted a celebratory Walk because we love life―all human life. Every human life is precious.”
“The inspiration to do the Walk in New York City came from the very lack of pro-life voices heard in the public square, in New York,” said Eskew. “Many pro-lifers in New York City shy away from discussing their opinions about being for defending the life of an unborn child, because of fear they may lose their job or maybe not make the cut for a job. Some do not want to be ridiculed in school. That is the state of the culture of death in New York City.”
“So how do we protect a pregnant young teen from feeling coerced, if the public can't even defend her in public? How do we stop human trafficking, if human life is so devalued?” said Eskew.
“In a way, pro-lifers―and teen mothers and fathers―are enslaved by the culture of death prevalent in New York State. Those who were pulled into human trafficking are enslaved more so. Legalized abortion perpetuates human trafficking. This type of culture is heightened and even celebrated when the governor of our own state announces that pro-lifers aren't welcome to live in New York!”
“Personhood Education NY wants to change that. Thanks to our Freedom of Speech, the International Gift of Life Walk―NYC witnessed to the truth that all humans are precious and are of great value,” said Eskew. “That's something to celebrate!”
“Our country was formed and based on the understanding and belief in God and His laws. And so those who organized the Walk, sent out prayers to God for guidance to help Bring America Back to Life here in New York. We want those who are pro-life―those who defend the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, mentally ill or unwanted―to succeed in defending Life,” said Eskew. “That success can only happen when a discussion comes to the public square. Thanks to our freedom of speech via the Walk, it has finally entered the public square in New York City.”
Dr. Elizabeth Rex, Co-Founder and President of The Children First Foundation, proudly and publicly carried the group's Choose Life banner down Broadway as part of the Walk. This was the very same banner that had been banned by the leadership of the New York City's St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Dr. Rex spoke with the National Catholic Register at the Walk.
“The struggle for freedom of speech and equal treatment under the law here in New York State is a truly important concern,” explained Dr. Rex.
“The Gift of Life Walk,” explained Dr. Rex, “was very important because for two years in a row two pro-life organizations―The Children First Foundation and Personhood Education New York―had been deliberately banned and excluded from marching in the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade while two different homosexual groups have been invited and welcomed to march with their banners for two years in a row on the Feast of St. Patrick in New York City.”
About her feelings carrying the otherwise previously banned banner, Dr. Rex remarked, “Carrying our Choose Life banner down Broadway was a dream come true and I thank God and the organizers of the International Gift of Life Walk for their indefatigable dedication to this truly historic event. … So many people came out to proudly and publicly celebrate our God-given, self-evident and unalienable right to life for all men, women and children, born and unborn.”
Dr. Rex continued, “The International Gift of Life Walk was huge success. My son and I brought two 50-count boxes of Choose Life license plate frames and handed them out to those who walked with us. They were grateful and happy to hold and wave them as we made our way down Broadway, also known as the Canyon of Heroes.”
At 1:00 p.m., following the International Gift of Life Walk, Dr. Rex carried her Choose Life banner and a replica of the banned New York “Choose Life” license plate to the statue of George Washington on the steps of Federal Hall at 26 Wall Street, across from the Stock Exchange, and urged Gov. Cuomo and his DMV Commissioner to lift the 2004 DMV moratorium against the pro-adoption license plates.
“On this historic day,” said Dr. Rex, “let us recognize that children, whether born or unborn, are persons who have been endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights and to reaffirm our commitment to the proposition that all men, women and children, born and unborn, have been created equal and deserve Equal Protection under the U.S. Constitution.
“It's time to put ‘Children First’ in New York State,” she said. “And to promote the positive and loving pro-life choices of adoption and safe haven which are choices every New Yorker can and should support with the approval of the New York Choose Life license plate.”
The Archdiocese of New York announced the International Gift of Life―NYC on their calendar of events: https://archny.org/events/international-gift-of-life-walk-nyc.
For more information about next year's Walk, please visit their website at: http://bringingamericabacktolifenewyork.org.