March for Life more than a day off of school

By  Andrew Cichocki, Youth Speak News
  • May 28, 2009
In May, I joined more than 20 other students from my school for the 12th annual March for Life in Ottawa. I joined expecting a nice three-day trip to Ottawa and little more. I was very mistaken.

Just after noon on May 14 the rally began on Parliament Hill, as did the rain and wind. Though somewhat unpleasant at first I took it as just a test from God and perhaps many others did as well since no one seemed to mind.

Coming into the rally, I was only moderately pro-life. I did not care much about the issue, yet once I was on the hill and read signs like “Defenders of Life” and “It’s a child not a choice,” new emotions stirred within me. What was this? Why was I feeling such sudden sadness over an issue I did not care about? The rain hid my tears. I decided to take a sign, “Life is the first human right.” It felt like it was my destiny to join this event.

Eventually, we began our 2- km trek down the hill and onto the streets of downtown Ottawa, which were blocked off for us by police. It started raining harder and my sign began to tear. I held it higher.

It was an ineffable feeling, to be part of such an enormous group, 12,000 people, walking along a road meant for cars, having the occasional photographer on the side taking pictures. I felt such unity with the group, it was amazing.

Groups occasionally repeated chants such as “Pro what? — Pro life!” or my favourite, “Justice for the unborn — They have fingernails!” The groups making these chants were usually teenage girls. I eventually joined in, chanting progressively louder, holding my sign high.

Halfway through the march I met my good friend and he recited a beautiful poem he wrote about abortion. At one sidewalk a “pro-life marshal” told us to stay on the road and we quickly found out why. A group of people, perhaps 30 strong, stood there holding signs. At first I thought they were also pro-life and wanted to cheer for them, but it soon dawned on me that they were pro-choice counter protesters. They all looked rather angry and aggressive, in contrast to the calmness and energy of most of the pro-life group. At first I was intimidated and wanted to move away. A voice inside reminded me of a story a teacher told me about a calm and peaceful pro-life debater arguing with an erratic and aggressive pro-choice debater. I decided instead to smile politely and wave. They seemed not to notice.

When we finally returned to Parliament Hill the rain stopped and the sun came out as if God were congratulating us.

This was truly a life-changing experience for me. The experience and the logical arguments for life which I heard that day have made me so passionate about this cause. There is simply no excuse for killing an innocent child, a truth which is so clear to me now, though that wasn’t the case only a few weeks ago.

(Cichocki, 17, is a Grade 11 student at Brebeuf College School in Toronto.)

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