By Julie Asher
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON — In remarks broadcast to the March for Life from the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump said that his administration “will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life.”
He invoked the theme of this year’s march, “Love Saves Lives,” and praised the crowd as being very special and “such great citizens gathered in our nation’s capital from many places for one beautiful cause” — celebrating and cherishing life.
For the first time in a recent memory, the weather in Washington was more than tolerable for March for Life participants as they gathered on the National Mall to mark the anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
The sun was shining and the blue sky was cloudless. By the time the speeches ended and the march to the Supreme Court started, the temperature had reached 50 degrees. March officials estimated that more 100,000 were in attendance — including a significant number who came on buses from parishes and schools in the Diocese of Camden.
Bishop Dennis Sullivan stood on the corner of New Jersey and Constitution avenues, greeting and posing for photos with pro-lifers who had travelled from South Jersey.
Kimberly Pesotski, youth minister from Saint Mary of Mount Carmel Parish, Hammonton, was among a group of 55, including 27 teens, from her parish who made the journey.
Miranda Mojica, an eighth grader from Hammonton Middle School, stated, “The March for Life impressed me with the number of people. Many said that there would be close to a million people, but you can’t understand that number until you experience it in real life. Having that number of people all supporting one cause is beautiful. I will definitely go next year and for many years to come if I have to.”
Mia Bullaro, a freshman at Hammonton High School, said, “The March was amazing! The number of people who attended was so overwhelming, and it felt great to be a part of such a big movement.”
During the speaking events, one of the teens noticed two bald eagles flying overhead, Pesotski said.
“With the sun shining, the message of powerful speakers and their witnesses to life and seeing our eagle soar mightily overhead, the hope lifted the hearts and minds of all those gathered in Washington that day. The hope of one day seeing the sanctity of all life from conception to natural death be respected and cherished,” Pesotski said.
“May our pro-life generation rise up and continue to defend the most innocent, the most vulnerable and the most defenseless human beings, so that one day we may see our most cherished right, the right to life, be given to all!” she added.
During his address, Trump said, “Every unborn child is a precious gift from God.”
His remarks were interrupted several times by applause from the crowd gathered on the National Mall. He praised the pro-lifers for having “such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure parents have the support they need to choose life.”
His remarks were broadcast to the crowd live via satellite to a Jumbotron above the speakers’ stage, a first for any U.S. president, according to March for Life.
During their tenure in office, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush all addressed the march via telephone or a radio hookup from the Oval Office, with their remarks broadcast to the crowd.
Trump spoke with a crowd surrounding him in the Rose Garden, including 20 students from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, opened the rally by calling on everyone in the crowd to text the word “March” to 7305 and to show their commitment to ending abortion and join their voices in calling on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.
Longtime pro-life advocate, Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, described the last 45 years of legal abortion as Orwellian.
“Every one of you here today” and millions of others throughout the country and world, he said, “are an integral part of the greatest human rights struggle on earth. Because we pray, because we fast, we will win. Babies will be protected.”
Contributing to this story was Kimberly Pesotski.