Hundreds of thousands of people converged on the nation's capital on Jan. 22 as part of the 43rd annual March for Life demonstration.
This annual event first began on Jan. 22, 1974, on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
According to the March for Life website, this event has grown to be the largest pro-life demonstration worldwide.
Supporters continue to march on Washington in protest of what they deem to be "the greatest human rights violation of our time, abortion," the website states.
Katie Schuermann and Jason Becker, natives of Strasburg, not only participated this year, but were part of the contingent that carried the banner to lead the march.
This year, Schuermann, a writer and musician, traveled by airplane with her husband, Pastor Michael Schuermann, leaving on Jan. 20 and returning home on Jan. 24.
She was fortunate, unlike the high schoolers who were initially chosen to carry the banner, to not have her trip canceled by the big snowstorm that devastated the East Coast that weekend.
It started snowing during the march, she said, but they were fortunate to make it back to a friend's house in Alexandria, Va., before the blizzard arrived.
Pastor Michael Mohr of Grace Lutheran Church of Strasburg said a group of 100 high school students from St. Paul Lutheran High School in Ft. Wayne, Ind., were initially selected by the March for Life Committee to carry the banner.
Because the high schoolers had to turn around and go back home due to the snowstorm, students from Concordia University Chicago (including Becker), Concordia University Wisconsin, Concordia Seminary, and Immanuel Lutheran School in Alexandria, Va., as well as laypeople from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod filled the gap.
In addition, the weather denied the communications team from LCMS a chance to travel to Washington D.C., and Schuermann and her husband were asked to serve in that role. She served as the reporter and he as the photographer.
Schuermann, a 1996 graduate of Stew-Stras High, said she first attended March for Life when she was a junior in high school. She and her mother, Cynthia Roley, traveled by charter bus. For Becker, this was his first time.
Schuermann, who resides in Sherman, said, "Our nation is built upon the principle that every person, young and old, has certain unalienable rights.
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"Children in the womb, however, are not only denied the pursuit of liberty and happiness in this country, but they are denied the very right to life itself.
"I participated in the March for Life to peacefully protest this atrocity and to draw attention to those in our society who, as the most vulnerable, are unable to march for their own rights.
"Different groups of all ages from around the country gather to march as one," she said.
"Some carry banners, some chant and cheer, others dance and play instruments, and still others march in reverent silence," Schuermann added. "My own group -- members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod -- chose to sing hymns and pray while marching this year."
According to the website marchforlife.org, the goal of the march is "to remember the more than 55 million Americans who have been lost to abortion."
The site also states, "We march to remember the moms and dads who have suffered from the pain of abortion. We march with the vision of a culture of life, one where every child is welcomed into life, and protected by law."
Becker said he was inspired to participate because of his love of others.
"God has pressed upon my heart great love and care for other people. That love, which is a result from how God has loved and cared for me, extends to people regardless of their physical characteristics or personal beliefs and convictions.
"Since I believe someone is a human being upon conception, I believe that it is inconceivable and inhumane to murder him or her before they have a chance to be born," he said. "I will not stand around silently while my brothers and sisters in the womb are being killed. I love them and want them to experience love, which, when you think about it, a child aborted before birth never receives."
Carrying the banner was "a very unique experience," said Becker.
"It was an honor to be chosen to take on such a prominent role in the march that supports our brothers and sisters. It is an experience we will not soon forget since we were simply expecting to attend, march, and just simply be a part of it all.
"That being said, the experience was not about us. The march, the honor of carrying the banner, and being in our nation’s capital is about the children we desire to protect and love," said the junior math major.
While marching, he said, he noticed all the joy around him.
"I did not see anyone there angry or acting out of hate. I saw a bunch of people with smiles on their faces as they fought for a cause that they all are very passionate about.
"As we marched for life, we were not smiling because of a naivete about abortion or the sad effects that it has. We smiled because we have hope. We have a comfort and joy like none other."