I admit it. I never would've brought the kiddos to the March for Life if Sister Mary Joseph hadn't done it first. Back in 2009—my first year full-time at St. Francis, she blusters into my room right around this time in January with a scrap of paper she's been taking notes on and says, "hey. Alison. Will you be a chaperone for the march for Life?"
"uh, you mean next year?" The March was in two weeks. There was no way she was pulling this off.
"no. We spent all of math class planning it. The kids have it all figured out." She explained.
"You planned a trip to the March for Life, in two weeks, in one 8th grade Math class?"… This was gonna be good. And, sure enough, they had. They had found drivers, chaperones and basically mapped out the whole trip. That was how I found myself, two weeks later, in a Honda Odyssey with three middle school boys, a Dad and a Dominican (There were girls too… But I got put in the boys van?) speeding to Washington, DC at 4:00 a.m.
I would never have attempted this trip. Frankly, the March for Life scared me. I had gone when I was in college but the thought of bringing kids from Hilton Head to a huge crowd, in a city, in the middle of winter just seemed potentially catastrophic. Plus, I thought it was one of those things that people would be all like, "oh, yeah, sounds great" and then not actually go.
What initially seemed to be a moment of insanity on the part of Sister Mary Joseph was actually a great trip. The kids loved the Catholic Youth Rally, seeing the National Basillica and marching with hundreds of thousands through the capitol. One of the kids, absolutely agog at the crowds asked me, said to me, "this happens every year?"
"yep. Every year" I replied.
"then HOW is there still abortion?" He marveled.
That first group of six kids came home so fired up about the march for life that last year I conceded that maybe we could attempt an organized trip last year. It was epic. We had 35 kids and 15 adults sign up to drive all night, sleep on a floor and be freezing. Plus, the parish supported us in a huge way—everyone told the kids how proud they were that St. Francis would be representing them. I couldn't believe it.
The thing about the March is that it gives teens—who are very passionate about their beliefs—a forum to express them. They love the idea of suffering for a cause that they feel strongly about. They've written great essays and defenses of life, explained to teachers, coaches, bosses and friends where they're going and even recruited friends to come.
This year we're bringing 38 teens and 12 adults. I've started having nightmares about busses showing up on the wrong day and kids getting lost in DC, but as much sleep as I loose in the weeks leading up to the March for Life, I think I'd lose more if we didn't do anything. Seeing the kids get so indignant about abortion reminds me that this law of our land is just not right. They're enthusiastic and young and many don't understand everything that has to happen for the law of the land to change but watching them I am actually inspired by this naiveté… ready to chant in the streets of DC, "hey, ho, hey, ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!", ask "what the FOCA?" and, basically, remind the world that life is very good.