WASHINGTON – At the annual March for Life event at the National Mall, individuals long involved with the observance have spoken of an increasingly young audience for their message.
Tom Hogan, a board member with the March for Life Education Defense Fund, had been involved "on and off since the beginning," with military service abroad preventing his participation every year. Hogan, who is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, told The Christian Post that in the past few years the crowd has been getting younger.
"We noticed in the last few years a lot of younger people are coming," said Hogan, who noted that about 22,000 mostly young people would be coming in from a mass held at the Verizon Center. "We look positively at the young people that are pro-life that are coming here and that's the wave of the future."
Fr. Frank A. Pavone, national director for Priests for Life and president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, had been attending the annual March for Life since he was a teenager. Pavone told CP that the cold weather and the re-election of a notably pro-choice President Barack Obama have not hindered the March's efforts.
"This has been a testimony to the strength of this movement that not only have the people persevered but the numbers have grown and they've grown younger," said Pavone. "Despite any kind of bad weather, despite any other obstacles… they come, they come in strength; you see a great spirit of joy and optimism here as well."
Pavone said that the March for Life "works on the same dynamic" as the Civil Rights Movement, as it rallies people "to stand up for the fundamental right to life."
"People have to look at what abortion is," said Pavone, who talked about a recently-created Priests for Life website called exposeabortion.com, which provides quotes about the abortion issue.
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"Everyone can advance the cause this year by coming face-to-face with what abortion is and spreading some of these quotes which will at least help people understand what we are talking about if it won't convert them altogether."
As with previous years, the March for Life featured many prominent public figures as guest speakers, including elected officials like Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. "I have a question for those who don't respect and won't protect life: Can a nation long endure that does not respect the sanctity of life?" asked Paul.
"Can a nation conceived in liberty carry its head high if it denies protection to the youngest and most vulnerable of its citizens? Can a country founded on God-given rights continue to thrive without understanding that life is a precious gift from our Creator?"
Sen. Paul called for those gathered to be part of a great "revival" for the country centered on justice and compassion, seeing the present state of the nation as being in moral peril.
"I believe that great nations and great civilizations spring from a people who have a moral compass," said Paul. "Our nation is adrift; adrift in a wilderness where right and wrong have become subservient to a hedonism of the moment."