Friday, January 22, 2010

The day ends - and it was very full!

As noted earlier, the CMH Pro-Life pilgrims had a 5:30am wake-up call. This gave them time to wake-up, clean-up, and get some breakfast before heading to the Verizon Center where the doors opened at 7:00am. You needed tickets to get it, but they only assigned you to a level. To show how in-demand these tickets were, I did the online sign-up for our CMH tickets five minutes after the site went live. Look where we ended up.....

That's our Pro-Life Club sign in the middle of the fourth level, behind the altar. Imagine if I had waited...I might have had to beg a diocesan priest friend, president of a competitor high school, to find us tickets (kind of like another Milwaukee Catholic high school - I got them the tickets they needed, but not surprisingly they had no girls in their group).
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The Verizon Center events included over 22,000 young people for a music and witness rally, the praying of the rosary for life, and then a mass presided over by Archbishop Donald Wuerl and concelebrated by fifty other bishops and two hundred priests.
After leaving the Verizon Center and a quick lunch by the Navy Memorial Plaza, it was off to the mall for the pre-March Rally. Amazingly, in a sign of how large this year's March was, the National Mall segment dedicated to the rally stage and march assembly area was so full when we arrived that the US Park Police prevented us and thousands of others from even crossing Constitution Avenue.
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We waited for the hour that the rally speeches were occurring, before we were allowed to join the March itself. I give the kids great credit for their patience. A lesson we all learned -- did you know that if you unfurl school group banner for a picture while on the grass area outside the National Archives (see above), it constitutes an organized protest and you are kicked off the grass. Something like this will happen again tomorrow night when we gather to pray the rosary in front of the Supreme Court.


It is always amazing to me the lessons your learn and the insights you gain just by standing around with a group of teenagers.


When we finally got into the March itself, we were probably at about the mid point of the assembled thousands, and it was an overwhelming crowd.


As our group climbed the hill of Constitution Avenue to the point where we passed the U.S. Capital and even though we were in the area of the mid-point of the March, one need only look back to see that the throngs still stretched all the way back to the staging area. I wonder how low the media estimates will be about the number of people in this year's March?

We ended the day with a group dinner at Holy Rosary Parish. This is the parish where I lived during my two years of studies in Washington, DC. It is a wonderful Italian parish just blocks from the group's hotel.

More to come tomorrow.

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