Surprised by Beauty at the March for Life
T. S. Eliot wrote that "April is the cruelest month," alluding to the way life and death are inextricably connected, as when "lilacs" are bred "out of the dead land."
This is the way the March for Life—held every January in Washington since the Supreme Court passed Roe vs. Wade—feels to me. I've attended a half dozen or more times, always arriving with great anticipation and great dread. Overwhelming every other impression—the crowds, the gridlock, the many signs—is the eternal cold. And this year's temperatures were among the lowest for the March. Why didn't the Supreme Court have at least enough decency to issue its mortal ruling in June? But perhaps the dead of winter is more fitting, after all.
A crowed estimated by organizers to number between 250,000 and 400,000 flowed over Constitution Avenue on January 24, spilling out across the city. Before processing, as always, participants received marching orders in an hours-long rally where elected officials meted and were meted rewards for their faithfulness to the cause. Here is where, typically, the cameras, reporters, and newscasters expend their energies and headlines. By the time marchers gather at the Supreme Court, the route's end (and, of course, its ultimate beginning), the majority of photos have been taken, the sound bites recorded, and the stories filed. This part of the story—the culmination of the March and the people who populate it—rarely makes headlines.
But it's the non-headliners ...1