For the past three years, I have made the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., for the March for Life. The March for Life is a protest for the sake of the pro-life movement that has been fighting to raise awareness of the atrocities of abortion and mistreatment of human life. The pro-life movement is something I am personally very passionate about, and each year we’re making progress in our fight. The growing support is shown by the fact that attendance at the March has gone from 20,000 in 1974 to nearly 700,000 in 2014.
My pilgrimages have all been with the St. Peter Catholic Church’s youth group as a part of the Archdiocese of New Orleans group, and they were all great experiences. But, the one this year was especially meaningful because as a senior I have matured in my ideas.
The cool aspect of being a part of the Archdiocese’s group is that I was able to connect with over 500 fellow South-Louisianians from outside my youth group who all have the same views as I do. As a sign of our belonging to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, we were asked to wear purple beanies with Archdiocese’s crest. So, it was never hard to find someone from home, whether you were in a museum, Union Station, or on the March itself.
On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 18, our caravan departed Covington, La., on the nearly 24-hour ride to D.C. At first glance, one might think, “Twenty-four hours on bus? That must be unbearable!” Quite to the contrary though, the ride is all part of the experience, and being stuck with each other for such a long time is a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and how they smell after not showering for a whole day.
When you first arrive in D.C., you can really feel the change in temperature, and you know that you’re not in the south anymore. We felt that big time, with temperatures only rising above freezing for a short time on one of the days we were there, and the temperature being a staggering minus nine degrees with wind chill on the day of the March itself.
The next two days after we arrived were filled to the brim with conferences and sightseeing, so much so that it seemed as though we barely had a moment to just relax. We saw everything from the Lincoln Memorial to the Smithsonian to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, all within two days, and finished off our tour with a concert from Christian rock singer, Matt Maher. Remembering our motto that “we are pilgrims, not tourists,” we regained focus on why we really came: the March for Life.
On a chilly minus nine-degree morning, we as pilgrims set out from our hotel for the last time this trip, ready to take on the cold as we fought for the right to life. After attending a Mass by our very own Archbishop Gregory Aymond, we set out for the Mall where a short rally took place before our march began.
All of sudden, the March began. As you march alongside the 700,000, the feeling of being part of something beyond yourself is truly felt, and the magnitude of the whole operation really comes to fruition. The March on its spectacularly large scale has successfully raised awareness of the pro-life movement for years, and each year brings us closer to our goal of abolishing abortion.
After completing the March, we began our longer trek back to Louisiana. But along the way, we have time to relish what has taken place on that cold Wednesday in January , leaving us with the satisfaction of knowing we stood up for what we know to be right.