By Natalie Salameh
On Friday, January 22, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light were in Washington D.C. for the 2016 March for Life joining with our Maronite faithful and Bishop, His Excellency Gregory J. Mansour. This was my first experience of the “March for Life”, and I absolutely loved it.
What is the March for Life?
The March for Life began in Washington, D.C., as a small demonstration and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. The peaceful demonstration that has followed on the somber anniversary of Roe v. Wade every year since 1973 is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, legalized abortion on demand.
The overall goal of the March for Life is to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision and prohibit access to the procedure of abortion.
March for Life 2016
As we tuned into all the weather and news channels in Washington D.C. we knew that a blizzard was on the way on Friday afternoon, the actual day of the March. Despite the warnings of very bad weather, 250,000 people gathered at Washington Monument (including the Maronite Servants) and prepared to march up Constitution Avenue towards the U.S. Supreme Court in witness to the dignity of the unborn, and to peacefully protest the moral evil of abortion.
Personally, I was so proud to see people of other faiths and other Christian denominations marching against abortion, in an attempt to safeguard everybody’s right to life. It just made me think that at the core of every human being is a desire and yearning to exist, to live a full life and to be respected.
As we began to march up Constitution Avenue, it began to snow, true to their weather predictions, but we soldiered on.
As we were marching we encountered many other religious communities including the Sisters of Life, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and a hosts of seminarians and priests who were happy to be out despite the weather. We also encountered women who were marching because they had regretted their abortion and were deeply wounded by the experience, and also young people who had been conceived through the crime of rape. I truly felt that I was part of something very sacred and special in upholding my belief that God loves each human life from the instant of his or her conception.
For me, the March was confronting at times, and I can recall two occasions where it was particularly confronting. We were at about the halfway point in our March when a number of warnings were posted that up ahead would be some footage of abortion victims, that is, little babies that had died by abortion. It just reminded me that we were all marching for the innocent, unborn, because they cannot march for themselves or speak for themselves to tell their parents that they too have a right to be heard, and have a right to exist.
The other confronting part of the March was right at the very end when we had reached the U.S. Supreme Court. To the side of the U.S. Supreme Court, behind a barricade of police officers, was a group of pro-abortionists who were trying ever so hard to drown out our pro-life message on the steps of the Supreme Court. The slogans they were shouting were troubling and so sad, “Abortion is our cry, we don’t care that women die”, “we are the liberation generation”. Well, we, the pro-lifers, sent a clear message that we do care about the gift of every single human life, by the mere fact that come rain, hail or shine (or blizzard!) we will be there to march and pray for the protection of human life.
It was an absolute privilege to participate in this event, and to walk alongside those who uphold the value and dignity of human life from conception. Many people were concerned that we would get stuck in the blizzard. But thank God, we were able to march and make it safely back to our accommodations before it really came down on Friday evening. The blizzard did not stop until about 11pm on Saturday night, which meant that our flights were cancelled on Saturday and Sunday. Finally, we were able to return safely to the Mother of Light Convent on Monday, January 25. I certainly look forward to participating in the many more marches to come, and ask you to please join us in praying for an end to abortion.