Without a doubt, one of the most exciting experiences we have had this year (and for that matter, ever) was participating in the annual March For Life which takes place in Washington, D.C. on January 22nd. We were so blessed to have the opportunity to attend this amazing event for the first time, having dreamed about going for some years.
Our trip was organized by the Jackson Right to Life which is a wonderful organization and attends the March every year. It was awesome being able to go with the group as they were all so experienced and made the trip so easy and enjoyable. I was grateful for their detailed plans and organization especially since neither of us had ever been to D.C. before. Having such experienced guides was really the way to go for us. We were able to follow a simple itinerary and simply enjoy the trip without having to worry about getting lost, where to go, what to do and all the other issues that arise when visiting a new place.
We flew out of Lansing the day before the march which was a nice experience and quickly became acquainted with some of our fellow Jackson marchers. I met a nice guy named Matt who was a great companion for the rest of the trip as was Fr. John from Queen’s parish here in Jackson.
The first day in D.C. was incredible. After checking into our hotel (which was fantastic), we set off on a monument tour through the amazing city. It was a very snowy day even by our standards so D.C. was pretty much shut down. It didn’t impact our experience much, other than some of the great views were obstructed by the heavy snowfall and the marble floors at some monuments were dangerously slippery.
We were able to tour many amazing monuments including the Lincoln, Jefferson, WWII and Vietnam memorials. All of them were unique and inspiring and also somewhat familiar as they are all incredibly recognizable and nationally famous. It was so cool to get to actually see all of them in person.
The Mass For Life
Possibly the most amazing part of the entire trip was the Mass For Life which takes place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception which is amazing. It is the largest church I’ve ever seen and also the most beautiful.
But the church itself was not the only amazing thing. The people in the church were as well. More specifically the vast numbers. We arrived more than two hours before the mass was to begin and not only were there no available seats in the entire church, there was almost no floor space left in the church! The entire main level was filled to the brim with pro-lifers. In the end, even the lower level in the church which was equally as large was standing room only.
Before the mass began, we found a small section of floor that was actually very near the front of the church and everyone in our group was excited at how fortunate we were to be in such a good spot. But then shortly before mass began, someone came by to tell a group of nuns who were in a pew next to us that they could sit in a special section up front. The nuns turned to us and offered us their seats! It was amazing! Both of our group leaders were thrilled and told us that in all the years they have been attending the Mass For Life they have never had an actual seat!
The mass itself was incredible. It began with a 45 minute procession of hundreds of deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals. There were even a few familiar faces…
The mass was also televised and we were later told by my parents and grandparents that our group was plainly visible several times during the broadcast. Awesome!
The next day was all about the march. We all had a nice breakfast together at a unique corner liquor store and then set off to participate in this amazing annual tradition. It was an incredibly cold day but it seemed to have no impact whatsoever on the numbers in attendance. Needless to say, I’ve never seen so many people together in one place. For that matter, I’m not sure where one could.
Marching through the city with hundreds of thousands of other passionate pro-lifers (mostly youth) was a moving and inspiring experience. It was powerful to see so many people from all over the country who were so passionate about the cause. Passionate enough to come all the way to D.C. on the coldest day of the year (or so it felt) and march through the city with smiles on their faces.
That everyone was so positive and compassionate was another inspiring aspect I took note of. Typically when I think of rallies and marches I picture angry mobs chanting their bitter protests and calling out the political leaders they feel at odds with. Yet that was nothing at all like the March For Life which was as peaceful as a protest could get. Everyone was praying, singing or chanting something positive and all were happy.
When the march was concluded, our group headed back to the hotel to thaw and rest. We were all frozen and exhausted and no one ended up doing much for the rest of the day.
The next day was also a blast. We started things off with another breakfast from the liquor store and then took off for a guided tour of the U.S. capital. I greatly enjoyed seeing this amazing national landmark and learning so much about our nation’s history while inside. The tour itself was not very long but was still impressive and memorable.
Following the capital tour we all hopped in some vans and were delivered to the National Holocaust Museum where we spent the afternoon. Our wonderful group leaders once again demonstrated how invaluable they were as the selection of the Holocaust Museum perfectly complimented the trip and the spirit of our mission. Reflecting on the tragedies perpetrated by the Nazis during the second world war against so many innocents certainly brought to mind the modern holocaust facing our country today and reaffirmed in us our commitment to fight for the unborn; the most innocent and helpless of all.
We wrapped up the trip with a nice dinner at an Irish pub and then marched our sore, blistered feet back to the airport.