Posts Tagged ‘Candlelight Vigil’

The March for Life

The March for Life

Occasionally the destination for my daily lunchtime bike ride is an event rather than a location. That was the case for this ride, as it is every January 22nd, when the “March for Life” takes place in D.C. The March for Life is an annual event which began as a small demonstration on the first anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the cases known as Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton, which were landmark decisions on the issue of abortion.  Over the years the March for Life has grown to include numerous other cities in the United States and throughout the world. The March in D.C., however, has become and remains the largest pro-life event in the world.

The first March for Life was founded by Nellie Gray, a lawyer and employee of the Federal government for 28 years, who after the Supreme Court decisions chose to retired and become a pro-life activist. The event was held on January 22, 1974, on the West Steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, with an estimated 20,000 supporters in attendance. Over the years, the attendance has increased substantially, with recent estimates of well in excess of a half a million participants. And it is estimated that about half of the marchers are under age 30, with many teenagers and college students attending the march each year, typically traveling with church and other youth groups.

The day’s events usually begin at noon with a rally on the National Mall, which features prominent activists, celebrities, and politicians. In some past years it has even including addresses by U.S. Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.  President Barack Obama has been invited, but chose instead to decline and issue a pro-abortion written statement.  The rally is followed by the march, which begins near Fourth Street and travels down Constitution Avenue, turns right at First Street and proceeds past the U.S. Capitol Building, before ending on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Building.  Another rally is then held in front of the Supreme Court Building, which features accounts from women who regret their abortion, referred to as “Silent No More” testimonies.

Many other associated events also take place in D.C. each year during the week in which the March is held. Various pro-life organizations hold events such as a candlelight vigil at the Supreme Court building, church and prayer services, educational conferences, and visits to lobby Congressional representatives. A dinner is also held each year, hosted by The March for Life Education and Defense Fund, which is the primary organizer for the March. An organization named Students for Life of America, which is the largest association of pro-life groups or clubs on college campuses, also holds an annual conference in D.C. for pro-life youth on the week of the march.

In recent years, the March for Life has chosen to focus on a theme in order to bring attention to specific aspects of the issue. Coinciding with this year’s 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the March for Life 2015 theme is “Every Life is a Gift,” with a special focus on babies who are diagnosed in the womb with a disability or fetal abnormality. Statistics indicate that this population is at the greatest risk for abortion, with studies indicating that approximately 85% of these pregnancies are ended by abortion, compared with the national abortion average of approximately 20%.

During this week that began with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal holiday, I also found it noteworthy that his niece, Dr. Alveda King, was a prominent participant in the March for Life.  Dr. Alveda King is a civil rights advocate, NAACP member, author, and Christian minister.  In her capacity as a full-time Pastoral Associate of African-American Outreach for the Roman Catholic group, Priests for Life, she is also a staunch and outspoken pro-life advocate.

March for Life has received relatively little attention from the press or mainstream media over the years. So to counter the relative lack of coverage, one of the March for Life’s supporters, The Family Research Council, organized what it called a Blogs for Life conference several years ago, which took place in D.C. and was one of the March for Life week’s events in 2011. The main goal of the conference was to “bring pro-life bloggers together to discuss strategies for securing more effective media coverage and advancing anti-abortion issues. Such strategies include securing media coverage through legislative means or by tapping into the new media outlets of the future, such as blogging.

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Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week.  So to commemorate today’s beginning of this year’s National Police Week, I am highlighting the events taking place, many of which will take place at The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, located on E Street, between 4th and 5th Streets, in northwest D.C. (MAP).  The Memorial is the nation’s monument to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.  Unfortunately, unlike many other memorials in D.C., the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is always changing, with new names of fallen officers added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week.

Activities and events scheduled for this week are varied, from Thursday’s Fraternal Order of Police Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Memorial to the 33rd Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day Services, also on Thursday, on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building.  Some of the other activites will include:  Wednesday’s 20th Annual Emerald Society and Pipeband March to and Service at the Memorial;  the National Police Survivors’ Conference on Wednesday in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, and; The National Law Enforcement Prayer Breakfast and Blessing of the Badge, to take place at the Ronald Reagan Building on Thursday.  One of the  highlights of the week will be the 26th Annual Candlelight Vigil, which will take place on Thursday at the Memorial.  A reading of the names newly engraved on the Memorial will immediately follow the vigil.

On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the U.S. every 58 hours.  Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Last year, 101 men and 4 women serving in law enforcement died in the line of duty across the country.  In  2013, more officers were killed in Texas (13) than any other state; followed by California (10); Mississippi and New York (7); and Arkansas (6).  Nine officers killed in 2013 served with Federal law enforcement agencies.  On average, the officers who died in 2013 were 42 years old and had served for 13 years.  A complete copy of the preliminary report on 2013 law enforcement fatalities is available at:  http://www.nleomf.org/facts/research-bulletins/.

The good news is that law enforcement officer fatalities dropped for the second year in a row to the lowest level since 1959, and the number of officers killed in firearms-related incidents this year was the fewest since the 1800’s.  The significant drop in law enforcement fatalities during the past two years serves as encouragement that the  intensified effort to promote law enforcement safety is making a difference.  But the only acceptable number would be zero deaths, and there have already been 34 officers killed in 2014.

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