Patty Knap calls herself a “born again” Catholic. She planned to be a wife and mother of four or five kids with several girls, but as life played out, she’s a single mom with two young adult boys. She counsels at a crisis pregnancy center, teaches CCD, takes online classes with the Avila Institute, and loves the beach, dalmatians, and America’s national parks. She also saves recipes in a pile until it gets big and then throws them out.
A National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children, Saturday, Sept. 8, is a growing prayerful effort to humanize aborted babies and to awaken the consciences of fellow citizens.
Over the years, thousands of discarded aborted babies have been retrieved from abortion centers and buried at 51 grave sites across the countries. The stories of how the lives of these babies were taken and how their bodies were found help to educate those oblivious to the abortion issue.
The first-ever Day of Remembrance was observed in 2013, on the 25th anniversary of the solemn burial of over 1,500 victims of abortion in Milwaukee. The bodies had been found in bags waiting for trash pickup. About 100 memorial services were held that year.
Funerals and burials for aborted babies are a rare event, but they have taken place when dedicated pro-lifers come upon the remains of deceased babies and have taken it upon themselves to arrange for a funeral and burial. Because of their effort, these grave sites now call attention to how those children got there, and the fact that this holocaust continues every day.
Think about it — these are the grave sites for children who died, but who were never born.
At a grave site listening to the agony of a women who deeply regrets her abortion, the issue is no longer an abstraction. For any young woman who hears these testimonies, the hope is they will remember the pain and regret if they should ever be in an unplanned pregnancy.
Grieving mothers are joining in the National Day of Remembrance by sharing their tragic stories. Their grief often includes tales of deception and betrayed by abortionists who refused to tell them the entire truth at the most vulnerable point in their life, refused to show them the ultrasound of their unborn baby, often accompanied by pressure to abort by those around them.
This year 166 services are scheduled, promoted by Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Priests for Life, and the Pro-Life Action League. Prayer vigils will be conducted at the actual grave sites as well as at other memorial sites dedicated for aborted children, such as those of increasing number on church grounds. Once again, the Knights of Columbus will spearhead many local events, just as they have been involved in the funerals and burials of many of the aborted babies.
“She stopped her car, got out and came over and hugged me and said, ‘I thought I was the only one that regretted getting an abortion.’“
In 2013 Peggy Strange went to a post-abortion Bible study recommended by her pastor. Then she heard of Silent No More and the Kentucky Memorial for the Unborn, and wrote a memorial for her child to be engraved on the wall there. She starting speaking at various pro-life events but found that giving her testimony at the abortion clinic to be the most powerful and effective. “I go down there once or twice a week with my Silent No More sign that says I regret my abortion, so that women walking in see it. I've been there when women have chosen life — they come out, they can't go through with it. Maybe it's my sign or what the other folks I pray with said to them, or maybe it's our prayers. It's a team effort.”
This year Peggy will speak for the first time in Frankfort, Kentucky, at the Wall For the Unborn, in the cemetery directly across the river from the State Capitol Building. “It is a very beautiful place of peace for parents to come and pay respects to their child lost to abortion and also for mothers who miscarry and a reminder for the ones who look out their office window and see this wall shining bright from the morning sun across the river with a statue of Rachel kneeling down and holding flowers in her arms.” (Jeremiah 31:15)
“My child is honored there on that wall, along with the other parents engravings for their child, and I hope when I speak it will touch the hearts of anyone that needs to know that there is hope for them, and that they are not alone. Sometimes you never know who is being helped. I have had women come up to me after I have given my testimony, saying that they also had one, but was afraid to speak about it, I would talk to them about getting healing. I spoke to a grandma who said she felt the guilt for not stopping her granddaughter, and a man who said he wished he had stood up for his child.
There was one woman whose heart I touched at the abortion clinic holding my sign. The morning traffic was going by when a car passed me, pulled over, and a women got out and walked toward me. I didn't know what was going to happen. She came up and threw her arms around me and starting sobbing saying, ‘Thank you for standing here today,’ I thought I was the only one that regretted an abortion, I spoke to her about healing and gave her some info. You know it was worth it to be standing down there at just that moment for her know that she was not alone.”
“It's been a great blessing to share God's goodness with my story.”
Nancy Kreuzer will be sharing her testimony in Chicago this year. “Twenty years ago, I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with a Downs syndrome baby. I was not a Christian at the time. Over the years, I suffered the physical, emotional and spiritual consequences of the abortion but didn't recognize the abortion as the reason. I had been told abortion was safe and simple and that I would be able to get on with my life.
“After suffering for years, I had a deep and sudden conversion and fell in love with Jesus. 13 years later I converted to Catholicism. It has been quite a journey. During this time, I began sharing the story of my abortion and God's mercy and healing within it. I spoke in many venues as the doors just flew open. So, it was during this time that I got involved with Silent No More as Regional Director and was invited to speak at the Day of Remembrance. It has been a great blessing to share God's goodness with my story.
“I've had numerous women approach me and whisper the secrets of their abortions in my ear. Some have been older women who told me that I was the only one they had ever told. I hope that was the beginning of deeper healing for them. Sometimes sharing our struggles with sin and woundedness unites us in ways that can be quite powerful. So, that is one way in which I think the National Day of Remembrance has impacted people's lives. We know one out of three women have had an abortion. There is a lot of suffering out there. At the Day of Remembrance, it is, I believe, helpful to hear testimonies so others know they are not alone in their pain and that there is healing in Jesus. It is also a beautiful venue for mourning the loss of our children through abortion.
“But it is not only for us who have had abortions. We all have been touched by abortion whether or not we have had an abortion ourselves. Abortion has impacted lives in so many ways — perhaps as a sibling lost to abortion, or a grandchild lost to abortion. We are all mourning the loss of so, so many pre-born children and we are unable to fully comprehend the scope of that loss. Coming together on this day is a beautiful expression of our collective sadness.
“Additionally, it is right and good to honor the lives of these children — to recognize those whose lives were never able to blossom and grow. It is an expression of respect for the most vulnerable — those small and helpless in their mother's womb.”
“I will share my story, Lord, if it's what you want me to do.”
Mary Griffith will speak for the fourth time this year in Hillside, Illinois, at Queen of Heaven cemetery, burial site of hundreds of unborn babies. Thirty years ago, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin celebrated a memorial Mass and officiated at the burial of 2,033 aborted babies here. Their bodies had been retrieved from 50-gallon drums on the loading docks at Vital-Med Lab in Northbrook, Illinois. Mary has publicly shared an abortion following rape at age 20, something she kept inside for years. “The first time I spoke I looked out and saw people crying. I felt such a sense of relief. I said to God, this is the hardest thing I've ever done, but if it's what you want me to do I'll do it, and I can see that it has touched people.” Mary says she was affected in many ways for years. Ironically she responded to a job ad for a pregnancy center and interviewed with a priest, soon realizing she was being led. She shared that she'd had an abortion herself and didn't feel holy enough for the job. She was hired and shortly after did a Rachel's Vineyard treatment. “That was so powerful and that was when I got my voice.” Mary has now been involved in pro-life efforts for years, and will be part of a new pro-life pregnancy center soon to be built right next door to Planned Parenthood.
See the website http://abortionmemorials.com/ for local events.