Friday, January 31, 2020 - Updated: 2:40 pm
WASHINGTON — For many veterans of the March for Life it was a day they thought might never come. A personal appearance by the president of the United States.
So while the usual routine was thrown off somewhat by the presence of metal detectors and barriers, the Jan. 24 address by President Donald Trump at the 47th March for Life energized the crowd of well over 100,000 and gave them hope that the tide against legalized abortion is indeed turning.
“Everybody was so enthusiastic and listening to everything he said,” said Carol Urbanek of Assumption Parish in Bellevue. “They really felt like he was there for them.”
Trump told the gathering at the pre-march rally that it was an honor for him to be the first president to attend the march. “We’re here for a very simple reason: to defend the right of every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential,” he said.
He pointed out that the pro-life movement is led by “strong women, amazing faith leaders and brave students” who fight to raise the conscience of the nation. They embrace mothers with care and compassion, he noted, and they are powered by prayer and motivated by unselfish love.
The march proceeded down Constitution Avenue and up Capitol Hill to the steps of the Supreme Court Building. Banners and signs dotted the crowd, and there was the usual mixture of prayer, song and chanting. And, as always, there were many young people.
“It was incredible, the energy was through the roof,” said Eva Nypaver, 16, of Most Precious Blood of Jesus Parish on Pittsburgh’s North Side. “It strengthens you to know that you’re not alone. This isn’t an ‘old person’ type of thing.”
It will be up to young people to protect the lives of the unborn in the future, she noted, and to fix the mistakes of their parents.
Added her brother, Thaddeus, 20: “It’s nice to know that you’re not alone in this generation.”
It was the first march for A.J. Urbanek of Assumption. “They are very powerful in what they do,” he said of the gathering. “They are very devoted to it. It’s cool that so many people my age are here.”
The Nypavers are the youngest of nine siblings, all of whom have attended the March for Life. They were accompanied by their father, Thomas.
When the march was first held, Thomas said, there were still scientific doubts about the level of viability of life in the womb, but now there is certainty.
“For these people to continue to pretend that this is not a baby, it’s not a human life, it’s unbelievable,” he said. Thomas noted that the baby’s heart is beating and pumping blood before the woman even knows she’s pregnant, adding, “It’s indisputable. It just has to change.”
It is important for young people to see that their voices can make a difference, Thomas said. It’s more than just a “handful” of people who are speaking out against abortion. They also see how they can voice their dissent in a peaceful and prayerful manner.
Deacon Robert Jancart of the Coraopolis/Crescent/Moon grouping said one of the things that impressed him most about the march was the “catholicity” of the gathering — the large numbers of seminarians, priests and religious who were present.
“I was impressed with them, very much,” he said. “Young priests, old priests, they were all there. It was just so uplifting.”
Jim Haupt coordinated the bus from Assumption. He told his group that while he appreciated their witness to life, he longs for the day when the march will no longer be necessary.
“But as long as it is necessary, we’re glad that there are people who are steadfast and faithful, and make it a point to attend this,” he said.
Father David Green, a parochial vicar in the Bellevue/Emsworth/Franklin Park grouping, has attended many of the marches, and he noted that this year’s might have been the largest yet. He noted walking down Constitution Avenue and seeing so many people — on the streets, the sidewalks and steps of buildings.
“The line just kept going and going,” he said. “It was so beautiful.”
Father Green also noticed the large numbers of priests and religious. He said they are energized by the witness of the faithful.
Carrying the march’s energy back to parishes is important so others can witness that appreciation for life, he said. They must see how many took a day out of their lives so they could voice their support for life, from conception to natural death. “How important it is to make a difference,” Father Green said.
During the Vigil for Life the evening before the march, Bishop David Zubik led the rosary at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
“I was impressed with them, very much. Young priests, old priests, they were all there. It was just so uplifting.” — Deacon Robert Jancart