March for Life Blogging
BY Tim Drake
| Posted 1/24/11 at 1:43 PM
Check here throughout the day for updates, as I’m able. I’ll post new material first, so you’ll have to scroll down to read the older posts. I don’t have an iPhone with Internet access during the March, so I’ll be taking notes and posting them later, after the March.
Groups continue to stream by the Supreme Court as the March winds down. I didn’t notice any counter protesters during the March. All in all, there had to be between 100,000 and 200,000 attendees, and youth, teens, and college-aged students outnumbered the adults dramatically. The mood during the March was very upbeat and alive with a great deal of youthful energy.
We reached the Supreme Court. There was a fair amount of congestion there, as some were trying to listen to the Silent No More speakers, and others were trying to continue on.
A couple of things I really have enjoyed are the signs and the chanting. Some of the interesting signs I’ve seen include: “Mr. President, Please Save the Children Born and Unborn;” and “Everyone Deserves a Birthday.” Outside the Russell Senate Building there was a gentleman holding a “Anarchistic Agnostic Against Abortion and All Legal Killing” sign.
For much of the March, we fell behind the Catholic University of America student group. They had a great selection of chants. One of them, was the tune “Na, Na… Na, Na, Na… Na… Hey, Hey, Hey… Choose Life.”
During another, which I happily joined in on, the students shouted, “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho - Roe V. Wade Has Got to Go.”
As they passed the Russell Senate Building, a Senator appeared on the balcony with a young boy to watch the March. The CUA group began a chant that went something like this. A leader, with a bullhorn, would shout the beginning, such as “Your mother…” while the rest of the crowd shouted “Chose Life,” but then the pace would pick up, and the leader would include other intros, such as “His mother…,” “That guy’s mother…,” “The guy on the balcony’s mother,” and “That boy’s mother.” It was great fun.
I waited at Pennsylvania and Constitution for just over an hour, taking in the sights and the sounds of all of the groups in the March, until a friend passed by and I merged into the March itself. Some of the larger groups included a group from Missouri, and the Silent No More group with all of their “I Regret My Abortion” signs. They were led by Father Frank Pavone.
The March for Life started, with groups gathered on different sides of Constitution making their way toward the Capitol and the Supreme Court. It was an hour before the official “March for Life” banner passed by. I would estimate that approximately 500 people were passing by per minute. That’s a very rough estimate based on the width of the street in front of me, and how many people could fill that space width-wise. To my right was the EWTN camera, and some gentlemen selling the film “Blood Money.”
I made it down to the Mall to listen to many of the Rally speakers and interviewed many different folks there for the March. I noticed a lot of groups from Virginia and Pennsylvania. Youth were gathered on both sides of the street having friendly “chant wars” with one another. A group from Mother of Perpetual Help in Maryville, Ill. and the Maine Knights of Columbus chanted “We love Babies, yes we do. We love babies, how ‘bout you?” Across the street a group from St. Benedict High School in Memphis, Tenn. chanted a unique “I love babies” chant in reply.
The Mass at the Verizon Center ended and youth began making their way down to the site of the pre-March Rally.
I especially enjoyed the look on the smiling faces and the eyes of wonder as the priests and bishops processed into the Verizon Center. They invariably looked up to see the seats filled to capacity, no doubt wondering where their own group was seated.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl just introduced each of the bishops present for Mass at the Verizon Center. Each group shouted and waved their banners and scarves in support of their bishop. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, representative of Pope Benedict XVI, received the loudest and most sustained cheering, and then delivered a message from Pope Benedict.
At the Verizon Center
The Verizon Center is nearly full with youth sporting their trademark T-shirts, hats, and scarves to identify their group. There’s high energy. It’s a bit like a mini-World Youth Day. Right now the entire auditorium is in the midst of praying the Rosary, with singer Danielle Rose singing “Ave Maria” between the decades.
Mass at the Verizon is about to begin in just a few minutes, celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Francis George, four other archbishops, and at least 13 bishops.
The Morning Before the March
The closing Mass, before the March, is taking place in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It’s not nearly as packed as last night, with youth strewn in the aisles, on the floor, and standing just inside the doors. Jacquelyn Hayes, director of communications for the Basilica estimated that there were well over 11,000 people at the Vigil for Life Opening Mass last night in the Upper Church, the Crypt Church, and Memorial Hall. There were five cardinals, 41 bishops, 325 priests, 95 deacons, 570 seminarians, and 65 servers.
Prior to Mass, and following Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation was made available. At least seven different seminaries took part in Holy Hours in the Crypt Church all through last night. There’s a massive youth Mass and rally this morning at the Verizon Center before everyone converges at the Rally site between Madison and Jefferson on 4th Street on the Mall. The weather report this morning said it should be around 24 degrees at noon, working its way up to 29 degrees during the March.
Some youth at the Vigil Mass last night told me what it was like to be present with so many others.
“It’s touching to see how many people are against abortion,” said Hannah Jackson, 14, who spent 18 hours on a bus traveling from Jerseyville, Ill. to attend the events. Four bus-loads came from Jerseyville.
“We’re just one youth group,” said Hunter Bryant, 13, also from Jerseyville. “It’s amazing to see how many people believe the same thing that we do.”
Kevin Kehoe, 13, traveled with his sister, brother, two cousins, and 8 bus-loads of people from the Diocese of Springfield, Ill. to take part.
“Hopefully, the March will make politicians realize the importance of saving innocent lives,” said Kehoe. “The unborn are future lives that could change society and the world.”
“This is America at its best,” said Sam Vasquez, an intern with the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
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