The March for Life 2017 called an estimated 100,000 pro-life pilgrims to Washington D.C. to take a stand for the lives of the unborn. The March on January 27 was also the first time a sitting Vice President spoke to the gathered marchers. The energy was joyful and electric as they marched, with their destination set on the Supreme Court.
This year, 220 of our own marchers departed, in 5 buses, to represent the Diocese of La Crosse at the March. Director for the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Chris Rogers, lead the charge and said his experience was very powerful.
“There was this buzz in the air, something I haven’t felt before. There was an excitement that this cause we’ve been marching so long for could go in a new direction, that there may be some headway,” he said. “During the youth rally at the Verizon center, it was packed to the ceiling and there were just people everywhere. Overall I think there was just a sense of new hope that someone was listening to us.”
Nancy Hackel was a chaperone on the trip from Edgar and said the gathering of people, all for the same cause, astounded her.
“The thousands and thousands of people – babies, teens, adults, people on crutches, people in wheelchairs, senior citizens, the religious – from all over the world came together for one cause–to be a voice for the voiceless,” she said. “On a smaller level, on our bus of 32 people, I witnessed for four days the respect shown to each other no matter our age, what school we were from, what parish we belong to, we came together and united for the cause of life.”
People of all ages attended the March, and throughout the day, Rogers said he noticed how many more young people turned out for the March this year.
“It’s wonderful to see so many young faces. For us it means they have a good grasp on understanding the beauty and dignity of life,” he said. “You can tell they’re not afraid to share that belief with friends and at school, and I think that’s a big part of why things are changing. People see their passion for it.”
Dawson Lemmers is an 11th grader from Edgar and said, “It’s truly awe-inspiring to see the power that the people have and how we can unite together to make change.”
Part of their pilgrimage also included a visit to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Rogers remembers it as a powerful moment of reflection.
“We were able to have four veterans from the diocese there to lay the wreath, and we were all moved by that moment,” he said. “As we were sitting there in quiet, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, you can’t help but think of how many unknown children there are because of abortion. What would these soldiers have been if they had lived and we’ll never know what those lost babies could have been, because they never got the chance.”
Before leaving to return to Wisconsin, the pilgrims split up and stopped at a Planned Parenthood and a clinic that performs abortions to pray.
“We didn’t find out until we got to the clinic that they performed late term abortions and even though all abortions are equally tragic, for some reason we all seemed to pray harder and you could almost feel everyone’s prayers,” he said. “I hope what we do makes a difference and this year just really felt like there could be a change in the right direction.”
By Monica Organ