March for Life 2012 dawned cold and rainy. For the thousands of young people who have grown up making the yearly trip to D.C., harsh weather conditions are nothing new. Washington in the middle of January feels like home. We know the city, its parks, landmarks, historic places — and the route we take to be the voices for the unborn.

We come because we are the generation who has been hurt by abortion; youth are missing countless brothers, sisters, cousins, friends ...

Although the day was gloomy, the crowd was joyful, if not a bit too exuberant at times. For once, the group I was with made it to the rally early. We were right in front of the main stage and saw and heard the testimonies and speakers. 

At first it was quiet. I have experienced the march before and seen the massive crowds, but every year I still wonder if they will come. Slowly they drift in, until, at last, you look up to find you are in a sea of people, mostly young people. It’s an amazing sight.

When the march actually starts, the crowd drifts (it’s hard to direct that many people to all walk in one direction at once). This year I saw something I hadn’t seen before: At least a third of the crowd ended up in front of the opening banner. No idea how or who started it, but it happened nonetheless.

We had several new teens in our group. I’m so happy to have newbies ready to join the fight for life. When I asked them about their impressions of the march, they said they were impressed by the sheer size of it. It is one thing to hear about it or see it on TV (thanks, EWTN!), but it is quite another to actually experience it.

Bernadette, 15, said her favorite moments were not what she expected. She “loved the moment when the rain was falling and the crowd was freezing, and yet pulsing with energy.” She felt like the elements added to the feeling “that nothing could stand in our way. It was powerful.”

She was impressed by the wildly enthusiastic group with the “Life” balloons (St. John Cantius youth group); she felt they communicated so clearly the “joy that comes from making the right choices in life.”

Gabriel was attending the march for the first time as well. He said the best moment for him was reaching the top of Capitol Hill and looking back over the massive crowd. All he could think about was the fact that we were all one in our cause: one in our mission to end abortion. The biggest proof for him was seeing the group Lutherans for Life (fitting for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity).

As another March for Life came to a close, I thought back to the homily we heard as we prepared to head into the city. Father reminded us that there are many activists with many causes, but we as Christians and pro-lifers are called to be more than that: We are called to be witnesses for life. To stand up for life in our daily lives and to reclaim our culture by living the Gospel bravely and boldly.

Today, we young people of America are coming back to our cities and homes fired up to do just that. 

Rachel Howell is the Register’s customer-and-administrative-support representative.