2019 D.C. March for Life, The Return
After a two-year absence from the national March for Life, more than 160 youth and young adults of the ‘Crusaders for Life’ loaded onto three buses to make the 15 hour drive for their return to the national stage, the March for Life in Washington, D.C..
After beginning their pilgrimage with Holy Mass at St. John Cantius Church, the source of their energy and joy, the members of the ‘Crusaders for Life’ boarded buses before the sun was even up for their journey to our nation’s capital. Alyssa Voccola, a young adult joining the Crusaders for the first time reflected, “Everyone said this [the March for Life] would change me…I wasn’t sure what that meant. I was scared, but more excited for the adventure.”
“I was given the chance to love, sacrifice, and grow with a group of people I barely even knew. It was exhausting. But I cannot even express how thrilled I am to have been able to be a part of it.”
The ‘Crusaders for Life’ traditionally seen with their signature yellow balloons and bright matching hoodies stage themselves at the beginning of the March and cheer and sing for the more than half-million marchers before taking up the rear and heading to the front of the Supreme Court. Once there they kneel and pray for the protection of the unborn.
This year, speakers included Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence, Ben Shapiro, Abby Johnson, Ally Cavazos, Dr. Alveda King, and many more. President Donald Trump also addressed the hundreds of thousands of marchers via video. Encouraging them in their defense of life.
The theme for this year’s national March for Life was “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science.”
“We see that medical and technological advancements always affirm the pro-life movement, for example, DNA is present at fertilization and no fingerprint on earth, past, present, or future, is the same. We know, too, a baby’s heart beats at just six weeks and we can distinctly observe it ourselves with ultrasound technology,” said Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life. “As science progresses, we see clearly that every life is unique from day one in the womb.”
“As I spent time getting to know the people on my bus, talked to travelers at rest stops, and exchanged smiles with other marchers, I was reminded of how unique every human person is. I was reminded of how much uniqueness we have lost through the culture of death,” said Crusader’s Member, Kathryn Pluta, 15. “This reminder motivated me to get out of myself and let my voice be heard. I put aside my pride and fear of looking like an idiot while dancing and singing in public because that all seems insignificant when you put another before yourself. I took risks and embraced the cold and weariness and fear because human lives are sacred and must be protected. And contrary to what many media platforms want to admit, thousands of others think the same."
The Crusaders for Life have become well known for their spirit, cheers, drums, and joyful enthusiasm! This year the Crusaders brought two large banners with their main messages written out for the world to see:
“Life is Beautiful” and “Love Gives Life.”
Decked out in their bright yellow sweatshirts and smiles, the Crusaders sang and cheered, becoming voices for the voiceless. They danced for hours on the cold streets of Washington D.C., waving yellow banners and proclaiming that “Life is Beautiful.”
And it truly is.
Kathryn Pluta reflected, “We saw youth dancing in the streets, college students waving their banners, young mothers proclaiming their joy at choosing life, the elderly clutching signs with gnarled yet invigorated hands, dads pushing strollers with bundled-up toddlers, and many more stepping out into the frigid cold to march for the preservation of the unborn child."
People from all over the globe came to D.C. for the March for Life, united by their desire to share the truth. The Crusaders were able to chant along with marchers that flew in from France and Australia as they stopped to join our group. “Ozi Ozi Ozi, Oy Oy Oy!” “Vive la Vie!”
“I’m so proud of what [the] Crusaders did this weekend,” said Grace Chapello, 17. “Everyone was being part of the group and so giving and selfless…other groups could see it in us. They saw that everyone was endlessly chanting, dancing, and singing for the babies. They saw we wanted a change to stop killing our own."
That's what makes the March for Life different from your typical protests. Marchers aren't marching for the sake of attention or the desire to secure rights for themselves. They simply see truth and the beauty found within their fellow human - born and unborn - and they want to share it with the world. “It was so inspiring and even chilling to see hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country/world come together to fight and stand for someone else’s rights, not their own, unlike so many other marches in D.C.,” reflected Chapello.
On the last day of the trip, the Crusaders offered up their thanks to God for the amazing opportunity to stand for life and for the many graces He had given to them over the course of the four days. “I have no other words right now that could better describe my heart besides grateful,” said Voccola. “These last four days cemented love for me in a new way. Love is dying to yourself. Love is going with the flow. Love is standing up for what’s right and fighting for the truth.”
Love Gives Life.
“So now what?” This was the question the Crusaders faced as they braved the snowy roads on their bus ride home to Chicago. How does one leave the experiences and high of that weekend and return to the monotony of daily life?
“We should always give it our all, at home, at school, at Mass, with family and friends,” was Grace Chapello’s response. “And while we do it, we can grow as God's children in love, spreading His love to as many people as we can.”
"In the end we walked away exhausted, over caffeinated, and longing to climb into our beds… But we had conquered our task – we stood for truth, we fought for justice. We were stronger, we were freer, and we were more authentic because of this endeavor," Voccola said.
"I was reminded to hope. Despite the bleariness of the world around me, God chose to remind me not to lose faith in either our country and what she is rooted in, or His Church. There’s a future to both…"
The Crusaders for Life were reminded that sometimes you have to march, you have to jump, shout, or take over an entire road in Washington, D.C. with two banners spanning one hundred feet across… Sometimes you need to remind people what their heart has been banned from saying.
Some 45 years after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe vs. Wade, the law is still faced with continued objections in the form of marches and protests. The objections may seem out of step and contrary to the political reality, however, the continued fight to grant the protection of personhood to all human beings no matter their size, accords well with a statement by Martin Luther King, Jr.,“We must accept finite disappointments but never lose infinite hope.”
Our “infinite hope,” lies in the promises of Jesus Christ. Yet we find ourselves so closely connected to, and often dragged down by the bad in this world. As Crusaders we have chosen to fight, to stand for truth, and to bring forth hope. We’ve seen proof that darkness will pass, it is woven throughout the stories and tales of our childhood -
“Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something. That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
Hope reminds us to find the goodness in the world, the goodness that is worth fighting for. Hope is the antidote to fear. Fear makes up our nightmares and causes more chaos within our discontented world. Yet hope is found within our dreams, and it helps us to form visions for the future.
The Crusaders for Life spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We fight for truth, we stand for hope. We are encouraged by a simple quote from Carl Sandburg, “A Baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”