by: Sarah Grim, editor
Early morning on Friday, Jan. 27, my cousin, Bethany Bostron and I scrambled to get ready and hop onto the metro to downtown Washington, D.C.
It was eight o’clock, and the morning rush for busy government workers on the Hill had come to a comfortable lull of late coffee goers.
We got off the metro and walked a few blocks to a popular Peet’s Coffee shop on the corner of 17th street, where we met an old colleague of Bethany’s from her summer job in Sen.Ted Cruz’s office. They talked about politics as I tagged along, trying to keep up with their fast-paced conversation and stride. Before I knew it, he had capered away to his office, and we were making our way to our next appointment.
The Capitol in view, we sped-walked, coffee in hand. I couldn’t help but notice how deserted it was with the streets blocked off all the way from the Mall to the Supreme Court building. Excepting a few stranglers who were running or riding their bikes, very few people were out braving the cold, morning air.
By ten o’clock, Bethany and I had rambled up to the Russel Senate Office. We questioned whether or not the giant posters we had been given by a group of pro-life advocates would be allowed in the building, and quietly stowed them, much to my amusement, behind the massive bushes outside before entry.
Many beeps of security machines and four flights of stairs later, Bethany led the way down the shiny white hallway, lined with heavy wooden doors that were labeled according to the state name and senator.
At Texas, she halted her heel clicks and entered, asking the man drumming hastily at his computer about a 10:30 meeting with Cruz’s policy adviser. Before long, she had flown out of the room and I sat on the comfy couch next to an intricate marble fireplace with a book in hand. In front of me and behind, two flat screen TVs circulated Fox news with the tap-tappings of fingers on keyboards in the background. I waited.
A while later, after she was given some sound advice on jobs in D.C., Bethany and I left and swooped up our signs, making the trek back down the street to the Mall. The nearer we grew to our destination, the more people seemed to fill the space, and the quiet, empty streets at the start of the day were now packed with life, groups with matching hats or jackets clustering the sidewalks. Signs and bright pro-life hoodies popped with color at every turn, and noise rose from the crowds like buzzing bees. A sweet group of young nuns sang a melodious tune as we sped by, and down the street, a man standing on a box with a bullhorn screamed fire and brimstones. The diversity of the throng amazed me, as my shoulders squeezed between families with little children in strollers and men and women in long, black skirts alike.
Everywhere, people were shouting, trying to sell shirts and buttons for the March for Life. Behind them, a cluster of people in matching white New Jersey shirts were singing, while an assortment of teenage girls stood, resting their signs at their feet.
Somehow, we pushed through gigantic packs and followed as everyone flowed to the Washington Monument. There was no room to join in; every square inch around the Monument was crammed and overflowing into the street. To get a good view, we climbed on top of a fountain, diagonal from the make-shift stage where Vice President Mike Pence spoke.
As twelve o’clock rolled around, the shivering marchers began their walk to the Supreme Court building. Bethany and I stood observing the passionate crowd for over an hour. Somehow, as everyone surrounding the Washington Monument ebbed their way onto the street to join the march, the horde seemed to grow instead of diminish. With each shuffle forward, new collections would emerge, each particular to their set. A huge Catholic church recited lengthy prayers, followed by a multitude of silent walkers. Behind them would be a wily group, with the leader saying a phrase, echoed with a response by his followers.
“Hey! Ho! Roe V. Wade has got to go!” One group repeated in unison.
Another, singing in tune with an old classic, shouted, “Na na na na, na na na na, Roe V. Wade, goodbye!”
The distinctions between the packs were easily spotted in their dress or actions, but all stood together in their purpose. Strangers smiled and nodded, shaking hands with each other after a small exchange of words. Random stragglers made their way into the loud choruses, learning their songs as they marched. With the heat of our energy driving us forward, the frigid air was made warm when we finally joined the masses.
It was slow-moving. We made literal “baby” steps as we walked and sang. Bethany and I mushed into a loud group, and quickly learned their chants, waving our signs.
“What do we want?” They questioned.
“Babies!” Was the firm response.
Bellowing louder, “How do we want them?”
Some of my favorite moments were when the whole crowd sang patriotic songs together. Everyone easily followed along in ‘God Bless America’ and ‘the Star-Spangled Banner’ as we neared the Capitol building, where police lined the sides of the roads. They were there to keep us activists in order, though it wasn’t entirely necessary. This was my first march, but it encapsulated everything I envisioned in a peaceful protest. We did not riot, create pandemonium or condemn the very few anti-protestors who showed; we just marched.
Finally, after hours of standing in the cold and rallying up Constitution Avenue, we made it to the Supreme Court building. As we were at the tail-end of the march, a standstill of supporters were bunched in the space between the Supreme Court and the Capitol backyard, which we weaved through to get a good view. Once again, policemen and women stood at the steps with blank expressions and unbending stances, like toy soldiers guarding a great treasure.
Pictures were being snapped all around, everyone with eager expressions on their faces. Yet, as the vigorous anticipation came to a conclusion, I felt the enormity of our goal come into focus. 58 million aborted unborn babies, labeled as tissue, seemed to occupy the space. Now more than ever, I desired that our mantra of “we are the pro-life generation” to become real. The building before me that should embody justice seemed a forlorn white in contrast with the colorful crowd. Is it possible that my generation could be the one without abortion?
Bethany and I agreed to come back next year and every year after, blazed with bigger signs, but as we trudged out of the crowd and around the corner where everyone was dispersing, we both hoped that we wouldn’t have to return. We prayed that this march would be the last – that this year would see the outlaw of abortion.