What Is It Like to Walk for Life?

March for Life - Howard Duncan

The reason that a person would want to walk down the middle of a city street in one of the two largest U.S. marches, either in the cold and sometimes snowy conditions of Washington D.C. or as I did in the clear and sunny 60’s of San Francisco, is hopefully very obvious. The west coast organizers picked a name that would not conflict with the east coast march that was started in 1974 and called theirs the Walk for Life West Coast. It began in 2005. I believe we will see other marches in other parts of the country grow into a unified week or so surrounding the Roe v. Wade decision that prompted this reaction.

This Years Media Reaction

There can be subtle differences in media reporting, if any reporting at all results. U.S.A Today online headlined their picture gallery calling it a “Rally”. You had the equal choice of viewing these pictures or the “Photo tour: Beautiful South Dakota”! Not that South Dakota isn’t beautiful, but, landscape is not exactly the company the marchers hoped to attract.

On reflection however, it is a subtle comment on choice. On one hand we have people who understand what it means to have an unalienable right to life and then suffer the difficulties of travel in winter to parade in the capital of our country where the lawmakers are too busy or distracted to pay attention, as former presidential candidate Rick Santorum told us on EWTN during the D.C. march.

On the other hand, we have American citizens who chose to ignore the beauty of new life and turn their head towards a different beauty; a lesser one, one that will entertain and stimulate, one that will hide the horror of forceps ripping apart the helpless little life that was so carelessly conceived. The nerve of some human life to actually want to live! The declaration of our rights given to us by God was a long time ago anyway. They were men dressed in out of date clothes. Men actually proposing to “dissolve the political bands”; that means go to war.

Fiddle-dee-dee! War, war, war; this war talk’s spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream. (Scarlett O’Hara – GWTW)

Other News Sources

Reuters, the international news gatherer, headlined my walk; “More than 50,000 fill San Francisco streets in 11th annual Walk for Life West Coast”. But get closer to home. Arguably the home of modern American political craziness – San Francisco. Arguably refers to “home” not “craziness”. A local NBC News online headlined it; “Anti-Abortion Activists Host ‘Walk for Life’ Rally in San Francisco”.

Ah…polite language in code that Californians can understand.

A few zealots and their duped followers have showed up.

So we all March and Walk and miss the next party.

Sorry Scarlett, Lovya. Call me.

Enough Rant Already, You Gave This a Title

Okay. What is it like? Those of you who did this will have thousands of different stories. Mine is the only one I know and it should give you the flavor it.

I paid my fee two months ago for a place on the bus and put aside this time to be there. Helped when I could to sell seats and encourage others to go. As a widower, I lined up my favorite traveling companion for this trip then contacted my niece who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and asked her if she would be meeting me there like last year. I have got to tell you that a second get together can be the basis of a family tradition. In an after the walk discussion and a comment that I may not have lots of years left being 74 this month, she convinced me that I had oodles of time left for our new “tradition”, but hopefully the “Walk” will not be necessary.

Now the hard part

Up at 3:30 am, because of the hour and fifteen minute trip into town to get the bus which leaves at 6:00 am.

Not my usual routine and not fully awake.

Do I turn the water on first or put the toothpaste on the brush first? Do I usually put socks on after my pants or before? I have opened this outbuilding thousands of times and never caught my finger in the hasp; why now? Put on a bandage, have some coffee, wake up and drive alert.

It’s only 5 hours to San Francisco civic center, so there is plenty of time to sleep, make silly jokes as the water bottles and snacks are passed around. Father leads us in serious prayer for our mission and the souls of the almost countless lives intentionally thrown away.

Here We Are

There was plenty of time to meet up with my niece.  Time to chat with other pro-life people, which I did more of in past years or visit the Info Faire tables before the speeches begin at the main stage on Civic Center Plaza directly across the street from the towering City Hall built in 1915. Compared with the humanity filling up the plaza, this building, the seat of city government here, today just seems to be a cold, lifeless, stone monument to the misguided law that governs our country.

Ample loud speakers begin to carry the sad stories of women who regret their abortion. Julia Holcomb tells of her abortion trauma after becoming pregnant with the child of Steven Tyler, lead singer of the rock band Aerosmith. And Rebekah Buell tells her story of the RU-486 abortion pill and the possibility of it’s reversal before it is not too late.

We hear the rousing speeches of Jim and Joy Pinto from EWTN Catholic television. Not just speakers only but doers. Both are directors of a women’s center in Birmingham, Alabama.

A message from Pope Francis read by his apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

This walk program is also ecumenical with a favorite speaker, Baptist Pastor Clenard Childress, Jr. As founder of Black Genocide.org, he gives us his enthusiastic words in support of our coming here to protest abortion.

What Happens Next

When the speeches are done the main event begins. We are asked to please maintain the high standard of years past and don’t argue or acknowledge the protestors that may be along the route. To support the San Francisco police department with any of their requests. The crowd was estimated at 50,000 and the exit from the plaza was probably built for quite a few less that. Not to worry, these people that you have never met are peaceful, prayerful, respectful of life. Yours as well.

We gain more room to maneuver as we enter Market street. The San Francisco police are efficient and supportive of our legal right to march. They are a welcome force and represent the country well in our protection. At one point they form a line to funnel us away from a line of protestors and provide a buffer of about 25 feet from the curb to avoid what was probably an opportunity for confrontation. Expert crowd control.

As  you walk there are several groups saying the rosary. Join in, they love having you join them.

You like to sing. Join in.

You wish to contemplate what is happening to life or pray. Do it.

You want to observe the event and feel closer to those who share your belief. Do it.

Ignorance is Fully Occupied

This event does not partake in the aggressive angry attitude that opposition groups promote. The website Revolution calls it’s followers to “Protest and Confront” and “Oppose the Christian Fascists” at the Walk. And  say that they are “RESISTing the sexist, racist lies of the anti-abortion movement”. The walk is organized by “anti-women fanatics”.

The  group Occupy Oakland apparently has gotten tired of the East Bay and asked members to meet at Market Street & Steuart Street at the end of our walk. I suggest that this group change their name to Occupy a Corner if that is the best they can do.

Is It Over Already?

We did have an Italian dinner after the walk and a Mass at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assissi before our long bus ride home. The dinner was as close to Fascism as we got.

Arrived back in Reno, said goodbye to fellow travelers (I risk being called a Communist now), debated on stopping for a coffee and said no, arrived home at 1:30 am, bed, sleeeeep.

A short 22 hours and a great day!

Photograph by Howard Duncan

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7 thoughts on “What Is It Like to Walk for Life?”

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