I must admit that I was apprehensive about attending the March for Life. In my mind I had constructed a scene that was very polarized. I had not expected to be so off with my prediction. What I saw were hundreds of thousands of supporters who were joyful, prayerful, and generally excited despite the poor weather. On Monday I became part of the largest crowd I had ever seen in my life, a crowd that stretched probably over ten city blocks, and I felt surprisingly content being there.
As part of the WYA team, my job was to talk with as many young people as possible about the World Youth Alliance and how they can support us. Our message was greeted with enthusiasm and real interest. All some people needed to sign the Charter was to hear that we fight for the protection of the inherent dignity of every person, while others asked more probing questions about what we do at the U.N. and what their signature will accomplish. It was truly inspiring to interact with individuals in a crowd so large and find so many people committed to the promotion of life at every stage.
At the end of the day, after talking with hundreds of people, Amanda and I approached a group of girls, around middle school age, and a father who was chaperoning them. We began with the standard WYA introduction (“Have you heard of the World Youth Alliance? Well, we are an organization representing the voice of young people who say they believe that every person has dignity and worth, beginning at conception and ending at natural death. We take this voice to places like the United Nations and the European Union and are able to say we have over a million young people from around the world who agree. This makes a powerful statement that politicians listen to, and if you would like to sign the charter you can help make this message even stronger. Would you join us?). The father let his own daughter sign, but felt uncomfortable letting the other girls sign, as their parents weren’t there. We gave them charters so they could look at them and bring them home, then started to walk away. I turned around to thank them and made eye contact with one of the girls who hadn’t signed. She smiled a huge smile and said “Good luck!” For some reason it was at that moment that I felt incredibly blessed to be part of an organization whose mission is so readily accepted and supported by people of all ages. Even though this girl did not know much about WYA, she knew that our message is good, but our work is hard, so we need all the luck we can get. I knew that she would remember us, even if only vaguely, and take the knowledge of our work on in her own life. This gave me just enough energy to make it through the overcrowded Union Station in time to enjoy some pizza with friends and relish the exhaustion that comes from a day well spent.