Commentary: Unexpectedly Finding New Hope at the 2008 March for Life
By John Connolly
JANUARY 25, 2008 (www.lifesitenews.com) - The pro-life movement is undergoing a change. I came away from this year's March for Life with a totally different perspective than I had when leaving the March in previous years.
When I went to my first March for Life in 2000, I was only fifteen years old. It was hard not to be excited. Indeed, it's easy to be excited as a young adult. It is natural for the young to throw themselves into life, exploring their new-found freedoms. But as I came back to the March over and over again, I began to grow weary. It seemed we always marched, but never got any closer to our goal: to end Roe v. Wade and make abortion illegal in the United States.
I was surprised, however, when this year, eight years and five Marches after my first March, I left the March with feelings that had faded in recent years: optimism and excitement.
Though I had begun to lose hope before, the March for Life in 2008 gave me (and, I think, much of America) hope for the future. An unprecedented number of congressmen showed up for the rally. Their message was clear: the tide is beginning to turn, and the change is coming from the bottom up. They were filled with good news: Michigan passed a partial birth abortion act, the overall number of abortions are the lowest they have been in thirty years, and more and more Americans are siding with the pro-life movement.
The speeches at the rally came back to one point again and again: the people, not the politicians, are the reason we're going to win. Strong families have made for a strong movement, a movement that is not political, but moral.
I'm sure that 35 years ago the thought of winning the abortion debate through demographic efforts seemed distant, at best, to the founders of the pro-life movement. But the children of the movement are now its most avid supporters. Quite literally, the resolve of the pro-life movement has multiplied. And because the movement is so young, it is vibrant.
More than 8,000 pilgrims from all over the United States went to the pro-life Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the night before the March. I was able to attend the Mass, and witnessed the energy that built upon itself, coming primarily from the young.
Following the Mass, I went with the other LifeSiteNews staff to the Metro platform to await the train back to Union Station. We stood in the center of the platform in bitter cold, while groups of pro-lifers, mainly teens and students in their twenties, filed onto the platform around us.
Someone at the far end of the platform began one of the many pro-life chants used at the March, and got responses. Eagerly, the youth began to sing, growing in volume, with groups competing with one another. A group started chanting the Purdue fight song. This was soundly drowned out by an emphatic section from Notre Dame. The Star Spangled Banner erupted along the line as each group fed off the energy of the other others, which resounded around our small, silent and pleasantly dumbfounded group. In miniature, we had a snapshot of the pro-life movement as it stands right now.
It is the youth who have taken up the banner. It will be the youth who finally vanquish the hellish demon who is devouring the children of our nation. For only the youth have the ability to build spontaneous energy from nothing. Only they can provide the numbers needed to repay their parents' generation for giving them life. This movement will be carried on the tide of energy that the youth of America have displayed, and continue to display each year in their involvement in pro-life victories.