Nellie Gray founded the national March for Life in 1974, probably not thinking that she would still be coming back to the National Mall annually for the next 38 years until her passing in 2012. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court Justices in their wisdom decided to hold over their Roe v. Wade decision until 1973, placing it not in the usual big-case time of late June but instead on January 22. The annual March thus takes place in weather that can be downright nasty. No problem, said Nellie; the March goes on regardless of such concerns.
If memory serves, I’ve been to three national Marches. Every one has been marked by the overwhelming presence of young people who come by bus from every Eastern state. Need evidence that the pro-life movement is not dying out but instead is growing? See you on the National Mall next January.
Here are some of my own photos from the 2013 March for Life, followed by a short video made by the national March for Life team in honor of Nellie Gray.
Nellie Gray, founder of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., died one year ago today. When she organized the first march, held in 1974 on the first anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, I doubt she had any idea how important her project would become. In this four-minute video from the March for Life organization, released after Nellie’s death, some pro-life heroes in their own right share their appreciation for this remarkable woman.
Nothing underscores the tenacity of the pro-life movement like the overwhelming number of college students from all over the country who converged on Washington, DC today for the 39th March for Life. In the best way, I felt my age as I rejoiced in the fact that opposition to Roe is not a one-generation phenomenon. Moreover, as I listened to these young people today, it’s clear that their commitment to respect for life is not limited to the preborn. Roe v. Wade at 40 looked creaky today.
Thousands upon thousands of us, of all ages, marched together from the Mall past the Capitol to the Supreme Court. It took well over two hours. Under the watchful eyes of Capitol police, a few counter-protesters demonstrated on the sidewalk in front of the Court. Perhaps the light snow kept their numbers down.
We rallied on the Mall near the Washington Monument for an hour and a quarter before the March began. The biggest cheers at the rally went to former Sen. Rick Santorum who addressed the crowd with his wife Karen and several of their children alongside. Sen. Rand Paul had a well-received turn at the mic as well.
I lost count of the college groups, identified by the banners they carried. My photos show only a few. I didn’t get pictures of the groups from Yale, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Dartmouth, Northeastern, University of Michigan … I could list about twenty more. That doesn’t count the groups without banners.
Whenever the March gets news coverage, the participation by Catholic groups is impossible to miss. Less heralded are other religious communities along with groups like students from secular colleges and health care professionals. With my photos, I’ve tried to show some of the marchers who ordinarily fly under the radar. Respect for life is more widespread than you might think. So is opposition to Roe.