By Kevin Placide ’21
On the snowy Friday morning of January 18th, nearly 100 Chaminade students gathered outside Darby Auditorium for the ride to the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. The importance of human life is a cherished principle at Chaminade, and these Flyers sought to hold this pillar of Catholic education with conviction by joining hands with hundreds of thousands of people from across the country in the 46th annual March for Life.
Every student who descended on our nation’s capital is a dedicated member of Chaminade’s Catholics for Life club. The club, led by Brother Lawrence Syriac, S.M., Mr. Michael Strandberg ’09, and Mr. Benjamin Volpe, meet with the students each week to educate them on the importance of defending life in all its stages. The main message instilled in Chaminade students is to value every life from the moment of conception until death. Since the very first March for Life in 1974, Catholics for Life has been there, professing its dedication to the preservation of the voiceless.
Prior to Chaminade’s arrival, pro-life political commentator Ben Shapiro spoke to the crowd and welcomed Jeanne Mancini, the President of March for Life. Shapiro discussed his counterarguments to the top ten reasons why people are pro-choice. He acknowledged the idea that mothers and fathers should be responsible for their behavior. Shapiro’s speech even caused some controversy when he claimed he would not have killed Hitler as a fetus. Rather, he would have allowed the child to be raised by a loving family. This argument, among many others, gained applause from the crowd.
After a five-hour bus ride, the Chaminade students finally arrived in Washington D.C. Upon arrival, the Flyers gathered for a group photo in front of the Washington Monument. After the photo, Chaminade’s marchers joined an estimated 400,000 people gathered around a stage in the National Mall. Posters could be seen representing groups that had come from as far away as California. Jeanne Mancini went up to the stage and greeted the crowd. She began her speech with a singing of the Pledge of Allegiance, and then the band Sidewalk Prophets sang “The Star-Spangled Banner”, as well. Bishop Neumann, following the anthem, delivered a speech and prayer.
After the introductions, Mancini shared the history of the March for Life. Since the Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973, thousands of Americans have strongly advocated to reverse the ruling, which declared that laws restricting abortions are unconstitutional. Over the last few decades, more than 60 million innocent babies have legally been killed in the womb. To demonstrate the severity of this situation, Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey explained, “That’s as many people as the population of Italy.”
Afterwards, Shapiro returned to the stage. As the first special guest, he was sure to inspire the crowd with his meaningful words. Shapiro, a Jewish American, demonstrated that the pro-life movement is not just a Christian gathering, but rather a stand for life. Leaving the audience with a profound statement, he declared, “It doesn’t have to be right, just righteous.”
To the crowd’s surprise, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen came to speak as well. The Vice-President inspired the crowd to continue fighting for an end to abortion in spite of the tough road ahead. “Be prepared to stand for life,” he said. Pence reminded his listeners that they had an ally for their cause in the vice presidency.
The participants were then treated to a special gift when President Donald Trump delivered a message. Trump swore to veto any piece of legislation that allowed for the practice of abortion to expand and for pro-choice ideas to prosper. Trump also promised to defend religious groups that seek to protect innocent lives, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor. Speaking these pro-life words, he brought out even more spirit throughout the crowd.
After the several speeches, members of Catholics for Life were ready to start marching. Following the procession and a large March for Life banner, the Flyers moved forward with their fellow demonstrators. Continuing up Capitol Hill, they continued to show solidarity for their cause.
When the event concluded, the Flyers met in front of the Supreme Court Building under the motto, “Equal Justice Under Law.” After dinner, the students and teachers met in front of the National Air and Space Museum. Departing at 4 P.M., the club returned home at 10 P.M.
Michael Bellia ’21 reflected on the day’s importance, saying, “It was wonderful to see many people standing up for the beliefs that I firmly support too. I enjoyed listening to President Trump highlight his genuine sense of compassion and wholehearted commitment to support an end to abortion. I hope that gatherings like these attract even more support from our legislators and fellow Americans. This march made me optimistic about my generation.”
The event left a mark on all the club’s members, especially those who attended the March for the first time. People from all over the country were left feeling strengthened in their pro-life beliefs. With the support of the Executive Office, the abortion era will hopefully soon come to an end.