.- Young participants at the 2013 March for Life voiced enthusiasm and hope as they stood up for the dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death.
This year's march has “a lot of energy,” observed Tony Visintainer, a 23-year-old seminarian at Mount St. Mary's in Maryland.
“I don’t know if it’s the 40th anniversary,” Visintainer told CNA, “but there’s a difference in the atmosphere.”
He noted that the massive crowds were chanting and dancing in the streets.
Hundreds of thousands of participants - mostly young people - braved freezing temperatures and snow to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 25.
The annual march commemorates the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized abortion throughout the nation.
Marchers listened to speakers at a rally on the National Mall before walking to the Supreme Court. Many carried signs voicing their support for life and prayed silently.
Christy Guillory, a student at St. Emory Catholic High School in Louisiana was “very excited” to be at the march for the first time, despite the cold weather.
“Snow’s a new thing for me,” she said, adding that the experience of being there with such huge pro-life crowds was “a lot to take in.”
Guillory said that she came to the march this year in order “to give witness” to the lives of the unborn, echoing the sentiments of many other participants.
Derek Smith of Chillicothe, Ohio, also came with his parish to the march in order to give witness. He explained that he had converted to the Catholic Church after his first March for Life four years ago.
“Really, this is what made me decide to be Catholic,” Smith said, noting that one thing that changed his mind about the Church was “the power behind” the march, both in prayers and the dedication of the individuals who participated.
Some women and men who attended march spoke out from experience about the pain that abortion left in their hearts and minds.
Josephine Todd, 59, of St. Petersburg, Fla., had an abortion in 1980 before becoming pro-life.
She explained that she came to the March for Life to “give my heart,” and stand up for what is right, showing “what I should have never done” and encouraging others to avoid her mistake.
Attendance among college students was also high, with many schools sending record-breaking numbers of students to the nation's capital.
Pro-life groups from several Ivy League schools gathered together for a group picture before the rally and lent their support to the march.
Caroline Bazinet, a student at Princeton University, noted the similarities between the civil rights and pro-life movements.
She explained that it is important to help people realize that the lives of millions of children have been lost by “standing in" for the missing members of her generation.
Harvard University student Chrissy Rodriguez, age 20, said that she is confident in the ability of the pro-life movement to bring about change.
“I’m only one person,” she said, “but I’m one person who can shout to the world: ‘This is what I believe!’”