Twelve Chaminade Julienne students, all girls in grades 9-11, made the conscious decision to forgo their weekend plans this January and rather join thousands of advocates at the 39th annual March for Life.
Missing out on socializing with friends at the big game Friday night and spending quality time with dad at the much-anticipated Father/Daughter dance that followed, the group instead headed to Washington, D.C to serve as “a voice for the voiceless.”
Accompanied by adult chaperones Karen Emmerich and Lisa Colbert, CJ religion teachers, the girls—literally wearing their message on the backs of their matching blue sweatshirts—boarded a school bus on Franklin Street at 11:30 a.m. January 20, with bags packed. After making a short stop at Carroll High School to pick up another group of like-minded young people, the high schoolers from Dayton, Ohio were off on an eight and a half hour pilgrimage across four states to advocate for the right to life.
“I think it is really important for students to understand that we are needed to be advocates,” said Emmerich, who also serves as moderator of CJ’s right-to-life student club known as LifeGuards. She volunteers to organize, chaperone and make the trip available to all students nearly every year.
“Service is really valuable, but there are times when we have to advocate for change,” Emmerich said. The March for Life, held each year in the nation’s capital in observance of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, is meant as a petition against the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in favor of abortion.
Prior to marching, activities on the group's agenda included a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum and to the recently opened Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on Saturday, as well as participation in the Students for Life of America National Conference on Sunday.
Beginning at 1:30 Monday afternoon, the girls will march alongside a crowd of pro-life supporters on Constitution Avenue toward the location of the Supreme Court building. Nearly all twelve from CJ are participating in the march for the first time except for a few, like junior Carly Meixner who chose to make the trip for a second consecutive year in 2012.
“The experience last year was amazing,” Meixner said. “The March was inspiring just knowing that you’re not alone in your beliefs and that it’s ok to stand up for those beliefs in a peaceful way.“
Attendance at the March for Life has ranged anywhere from of 100,000 to 225,000 since 1977, according to marchforlife.org, and this year’s crowd is expected to be just as large. The combined group from Carroll and CJ will depart from Washington, D.C. directly after the march at around 5 p.m. in order to return in time for classes Tuesday.