The sound of bagpipes and drums echoed as a large crowd marched down Broadway in New York City. What was the occasion? The first “Gift of Life Walk” in the Big Apple.
The event took place on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, and was organized by the director of Personhood Education New York, Mrs. Dawn Eskew. Among the many pro-life advocates present were several high-profile activists, including Dr. Alveda King, director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, and Eileen Slattery of Expectant Mother Care. Students for Life were also present.
Prior to the commencement of the march, Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., thanked the crowd for coming and gave a special acknowledgement to the combined marching bands of the American TFP and the St. Louis de Montfort Academy.
The march itself began at Foley Square and passed by iconic landmarks of the city such as Ground Zero and the Wall Street Charging Bull. At the head of the march was a sight not unfamiliar to those who attend the annual March for Life in Washington D.C., the TFP band, its crimson standards and a statue of Our Lady of Fatima carried by an honor guard wearing the TFP habit. Behind them were banners, which displayed messages such as “Pray and Act to End the Sin of Abortion” and “a Child, not a Choice.”
Despite New York’s reputation of being leftist, the march was surprisingly well received by onlookers. The typical first reaction of those who saw the parade was to film it with their smart phones. Others watched on with awe and a few Catholics blessed themselves when the Fatima statue passed them. One man from Long Island reported that he saw passive onlookers step off the sidewalk and join the march.
Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how someone accustomed to the doldrums of the city would not react with admiration upon seeing hundreds of pro-life advocates – mostly young Americans – marching down Broadway, singing patriotic and religious hymns.
TFP volunteers also distributed “Thank You” packages containing St. Michael medals to the New York police officers who were protecting the march. New York’s finest received the packages with gratitude. One officer returned to ask for three more packages to "give to the men under me."
As the march came to an end, demonstrators converged at the intersection of Broad and Stone streets. Yet although the event had officially concluded, everyone continued singing hymns and chanting pro-life slogans for another thirty minutes. Catholics also gathered around the statue of Our Lady to venerate their heavenly Queen.
The atmosphere was positive. In the words of 19-year-old TFP Student Action volunteer Robert Nunez: “I came expecting the usual angry people shouting curse words, as they did at an earlier pro-life march in Washington, D.C. But that didn’t happen. Today was more of a triumph. It was like a Crusade for the unborn that conquered the city.”
One woman added, “I’ve been doing pro-life work in New York almost my entire life and I’ve never seen anything like this. This is from heaven.”
As we commemorate the Fatima centennial, may Our Lady bless this noble initiative and allow it to flourish and expand.