Last week the March for Life had its annual convocation on the Mall. About one hundred thousand people participated, mostly kids, from around the country. They come to meet and fervently pray for the end of the practice of abortion in our country and, more immediately, for the end of abortion’s legal recognition.
A day later on Saturday the annual Women's March started on the Mall and migrated to the White House and back again. That march has degraded in numbers over the past couple of years but still numbered about ten thousand people (overwhelmingly women) showing-up to protest the president. This meeting has no express political agenda other than to attack the current resident of the White House.
Every Saturday, I attend the vigil mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church located near 10th and G Streets NW. Because I tend towards corpulence, I make sure that I take a long walk every day or I would quickly cross over into outright rotundity. My Saturday walk travels from my home in SW D.C. to mass in NW and back (about 45 minutes each way).
Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the topography of D.C. knows that to make this walk, I must cross the National Mall.
This last Saturday as I crossed the Mall, I walked among the remnants of the Women’s Marchers heading to the Metro or parking after their long day of pink hat wearing. They all carried signs. Many were pre-printed and many were homemade. All of them hated on the president and were largely obscene. They were obscene in such a way that even a just few years ago no decent person would make such a sign much less carry one.
Several stood out but I stopped and took special notice of one homemade sign strapped to a baby stroller which read, “P.O.T.U.S.” with the “T.” and the U.” crossed out, leaving P.O.S. If this abbreviation is not immediately clear to you, check the Urban Dictionary online.
I am a fan of the president, warts and all. I am a fan of most presidents but Republican ones more so. I have lived in overwhelmingly Democratic-dominated areas all of my life so I long ago got used to having things that I like and respect denigrated as a matter of course. I was as bemused at this sign as I was irritated by it. Other signs were less clever, more graphic, and plainly guttural. You probably didn’t see too many of these on the news but believe me they made up the preponderance of the signs I saw. There was no love in this crowd, just a grim hatred binding them in cause and temperament.
With a small, dark cloud over me, I reached St. Patrick’s about fifteen minutes later and was temporarily taken aback at the fullness of the church. St. Patrick’s is a fairly good-sized church but the vigil mass is sparsely attended (one of the reasons that I go). There are almost never more than fifty to seventy-five people and virtually all of them regulars. During the summer, the parish adds another fifty tourists and that is about as full as the vigil mass ever gets except for Christmas Eve and the Easter Vigil. The mass last Saturday evening was SRO.
Then it hit me, they were all school kids from the March for Life. They were attending Mass for the week on Saturday because on Sunday they would be packed in busses travelling for a couple of days back home for classes on Tuesday. The kids at this mass were mostly from Missouri, Minnesota, and the Virgin Islands. We all laughed a little about how much candy that the Virgin Island kids must have had to have sold to afford the trip in — and how they would pay any price to get away from the winter weather they found here in D.C.
The kids were happy, genuinely happy. They bore the happiness one gets from being “for” something as opposed to being “against” something. They were not shouting pro-life chants nor were they all about the cause in any way. They were just happy kids at mass. There was a joyfulness in them which was infectious.
I immediately forgot the angry thirty- to sixty-something women making the bulk of the Women’s Marchers and the anger that they spread. Their unhappiness was also infectious but the kids were an unexpected surprise and a complete antidote.
The kids were glad to have participated and were glad to be going home. I talked with a few who told me of the things that they were able to see in our Nation’s Capitol and of the excitement of being in a crowd of a hundred thousand people marching and praying for the same thing.
They tore no one down, hated on no one, and wished well to all. They took the abuse of the counter protesters, the racial haters we recently saw video of at the Lincoln Memorial and the media looking for any way to attack them. They were just kids being the happy kids that they are.
I worry sometimes about the anger in the political activism today. No good comes from this. Even the good policy changes often remain tainted with the hatred from which those policies were borne.
However, if the future of our nation is in the hands of the kids I saw at mass, I can pass on happily knowing that the republic is safe. I pray that this will be so.
Michael Patrick Flanagan represented the 5th District of Illinois in the historic 104th Congress. Prior to his Congressional Service, Michael was commissioned in the United States Army Field Artillery. Michael and his firm, Flanagan Consulting LLC, have represented both large and small corporations, organizations, and associations. In 2009, Michael entered public service again with the United States Department of State in Iraq as the Senior Rule of Law Advisor on the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Maysan, Iraq. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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