The chant was deafening. “Pro….LIFE!...Pro…LIFE!”
Outside the temperatures had plummeted below freezing as the warned-about winter storm blew its way into Washington, D.C., but inside the ballroom at the Washington Hyatt Regency Hotel things were just heating up.
Eric Scheidler of Pro-Life Action League, the MC for the 2014 March for Life Youth Rally, was leading the over 1000 youth present in a raucous pro-life chant.
For the next two and a half hours, a veritable who’s-who list of pro-life leaders would address the hordes of youth, exhorting them to take a stand for life, punctuated by entertainment provided by pro-life rock musician Moxy Anne.
Speakers included pro-life superstars like Abby Johnson, Lila Rose, Ryan Bomberger, Troy Newman, Fr. Frank Pavone, and many others.
Rose recounted how she began her organization Live Action when she was 15, never guessing that ten years later it would have grown into the influential national pro-life group that it has.
“It’s really dangerous to ever ask God to use you for something,” she told the youth, while urging them to do just that. “He wants to use us for our purposes. He loves us. He loves each child into life.
“Today we’re born into this country for a reason. And when you look around at the culture, there’s over 3400 abortions a day in our country. These are people who could have been my friends, one-third of my generation that’s missing,” she said.
Bryan Kemper, the organizer of the event, sounded exhausted, but pleased when he sat down with LifeSiteNews.com two-thirds of the way through the rally.
What's different about this year’s event? “I’m more tired,” Kemper joked, but then added. “It’s packed out. It’s bigger than last year. Last year we only had half this ballroom. It’s just more and more people are coming.”
In fact, the 1,000+ in attendance were only a fraction of the nearly 5000 who applied to participate in this year’s rally. Thousands had to be turned away. The ballroom at the Hyatt just couldn’t accommodate them.
But next year, Kemper promised, the rally would be moving to a venue that can pack a much larger crowd.
The Youth Rally also had a new, high-tech face this year, as newly-minted March for Life President Jeanne Monahan opened the event by urging the youth to download the brand new March for Life mobile app, which will provide live 360-degree video footage of the March, and instructed them on how to receive March-related updates to their mobile phones.
She also warned the youth that the media likely won’t accurately report on the massive March for Life on Wednesday, but that they can help remedy that by sending out photos and other updates on social media using the hashtag #whywemarch.
“We need you, we desperately need you,” Monahan told the youth. “We love you. It’s our goal to give you a platform so that your voices can speak, because your voices are the most powerful in this debate.”
Indeed, if there was a theme to the speeches, it was that the youth shouldn’t view the March for Life as their annual “pro-life event,” but rather as simply the beginning of a year packed with life-saving work.
“This right here, coming here, this isn’t what it is to be pro-life,” Abby Johnson said during a short, but punchy address. “This right here, this is not your pro-life activity for the year.
“You have the opportunity to be pro-life, to live as a pro-lifer every day of your life. I want you young people to hear this. You probably already know this, but it’s hard to be pro-life. It sucks. Sometimes I get tired of the persecution, I get tired of being told that I’m uneducated and I don’t know what I’m talking about,” she said. “But even though it’s hard, it’s right. So I want you all to feel courageous, and to know that your generation, our generation, will be the one that ends abortion!”
Perhaps the loudest applause was reserved for veteran pro-life activist Joe Scheidler, who has been fighting abortion before Roe v. Wade, who was introduced to the crowd as the “godfather of the pro-life movement.”
Joe received a resounding standing ovation as he took to the stage. “You’ve been sent, no question about it,” he told the youth. “You are an apostle, one who is sent. You are called by God by name, he knows you personally. You’re an apostle of life, and that’s what God is all about.”
A single human being, he told the youth, is worth more than the whole physical universe. And so, he said, “When you go out to an abortion clinic, when you are doing pro-life things, you are saving the universe, you are saving the world, you are doing God’s will.”
In his remarks to LifeSiteNews.com, Kemper praised the unity” in the pro-life movement, that he said made organizing the event possible. “The unity that’s out there in the pro-life movement right now is awesome,” he said. “Everybody’s just working together.”
As for what he hopes the Youth Rally will achieve? That’s simple. “The end of abortion.”