One mile is not too far of a walk. From the Bayfront Parkway to 14th Street is one mile, if one travels straight down State Street. 10 laps around a standard track is usually one mile. But when you’re marching this one-mile stretch of land with 700,000 other people at the same time, it’s a whole different experience.
The 42nd Annual March for Life was held in Washington D.C. on January 22nd this year. The march is held on the closest weekday to January 22nd, as that was the date on which the famous “Roe v Wade” case reached its final verdict, which allowed for legalized abortions in the US. Participants will march through downtown D.C., passing by the Senate Building, the Capitol, the National Archives, and ending on the National Mall in front of the White House.
Every year, the march has grown larger and larger, this year topping 700,000 people, according to some reports. This is my third March, and it’s truly an incredible event. There are political speakers at a rally before the march begins at 1 p.m., and the morning is filled with different opportunities to attend mass. Priests, Deacons and even Bishops from across the country come to help celebrate mass before the festivities begin.
Despite this being my third time in D.C., this trip was filled with a lot of firsts for me. For one, the Gannon group of marchers left on a bus convoy Wednesday, the 21st, and arrived in D.C. at about 8 a.m, Thursday. From there, all of the groups with which we shared a bus split up, and Gannon went straight to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (say that three times fast.) and celebrated mass as a group. The mass was celebrated by the Bishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, and included what I estimated to be 50 deacons, 30 priests, and 5 bishops. It was truly incredible, and looking back, I wish I was more awake during the homily, because Bishop Chaput sounded like a very intelligent speaker. But after 8 hours on a bus, sleeping on and off for about 45 minutes at a time, it’s difficult.
From there, we took the Metro to a shopping plaza in downtown D.C., and ate lunch at the “District Taco.” It was very good for being so crowded.But their shrimp tacos were very tasty, and being the pop addict that I am, I even enjoyed their orange pop. (I am also a sucker for orange-flavored stuff.)
After that, we travelled to the National Mall for the beginning of the March at 1 PM. We somehow ended up toward the front of the Parade. We marched through the one-mile stretch, looping back to the National Mall. From there, as the crowd dissipated, our group split up. Some of us went to the National Air and Space Museum, and others of us took to the Native American History museum. I was in the group at the Native American history museum, and it was very interesting. They had multiple exhibits about the Native Americans slowly losing land to European settlers, and there was a lot of information that I had never heard before.
From there, we piled back onto the bus, stopped for dinner in Maryland, and headed home. We were back in the parking lot of St. George parish by 1:30 a.m., Friday, and once our carpool reached Gannon, everyone went straight to bed.
Despite the next day being slow and tiring, I’m glad I went on this trip again. Washington D.C. is a beautiful place, and the March itself was a lot of fun. Aside from the fact that you get a day off of school/work, I highly encourage anyone who is interested in this event to give it a try. it’s a great experience to join with thousands of other people for a day of what is essentially peaceful protesting. It’s not every day you get to look into the government’s windows.