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Archives Respect life director looks back on 22 years of marching for life
Leading the ‘pro-life generation’

Feb. 7, 2018

By Colleen Miner
Diocesan director, respect life ministry

Twenty-two years ago when I attended my first March for Life in Washington, DC, I had no idea it would become a yearly pilgrimage. I was simply taking part in an event with my husband and three young children (the youngest wasn’t even walking yet) that my in-laws had mentioned.

I was amazed at what I saw. This was a big movement with many different groups. Some were silent, a few had megaphones, some were praying, others were singing.

There were all types of signs - manufactured and homemade - indicating their group or the message they wished to convey. This aspect of the March has not changed but the size and age of the crowd has. This year’s estimated attendance was half a million; the overwhelming majority of attendees was in their teens and twenties. The sign I saw most often while walking in the 45th annual March for Life down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court was “I Am the Pro-Life Generation”.

A different perspective
It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I have marched in nearly half of all the DC Marches for Life. And I never marched alone - until this year.

While our travels to DC have grown from our mini-van to two mini-vans to a 15-seater van to half of a bus to one bus to what is now The Youth Buses for Life - with over 100 high school students and chaperones traveling from the North Country to DC for the three-day pilgrimage, I was always surrounded by family and friends

But this year, I went further forward at the Rally before the March to get some photos and when I returned, the group had moved. Phone circuits were overloaded, calls could not be completed and texts were not being delivered. So, I walked alone.

I didn’t mind. After 22 years, I knew where I was going and where our group would meet. I welcomed the opportunity to think.

Earlier in the day, our group had done something we had never done before - we visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum before the March for Life. We had visited as a group before but never the day we marched. We had made the correlation between abortion and the holocaust, even knew that abortion is referred to as a hidden holocaust and is the human injustice issue of our day. But this year, the tour was different for me.

Form a single line...
Our group was asked to form a single line before entering the memorial to make going through the metal detectors easier. We placed our belongings in bins and were given an identification card that read: “For the dead and the living we must bear witness.” Each card was different and told the story of a real person who lived during the Holocaust. The last page told whether your person survived, or not.

Next, as leader of the group, it was my job to line up everyone on the stairs in rows of four, before we were led to the room where the memorial was explained to us.

I thought about how this memorial was dedicated to those who formed single lines, placed their belongings in bins, were placed in groups before being led to death.

It was ironic that we were referred to by the museum workers as the Youth Buses for Life as we were surrounded by memories of death.

Much like the abortion holocaust of our day, the victims of the Holocaust were largely unknown to the world. The powers-that-be only shared the information that they wanted the world to know. Many had no idea what was going on and some who packed as if they were going on a holiday.

Who would have imagined that such a horrific taking of innocent life could go unnoticed for so long - that groups of people would be so discriminated against and found so  inconvenient and inadequate that they would be killed?

The Holocaust memorial has a room of shoes belonging to victims. Another room has an examination table and two ovens. Following that is a large photo of human hair that had been packed into 40 lb bags for resale.

In the middle of the museum is a tower of photos, smiling faces, young and old, photos of victims from the floor to the ceiling. It’s only after your eye follows the photos up, that you realize they are in the shape of a chimney. There is a wooden ghetto handcart used to stack victims who were starved or died from sickness and even a full size replica of a cattle car used to transport the holocaust victims to their deaths.

Abortion Memorial Museum?
It made me wonder what might be included in an Abortion Memorial Museum - it’s not unreasonable to believe there will be one someday.

Over 60 million have lost their lives since the US Supreme Court decision in 1973. We only know what the media shares with us. People line up, even bring their daughters, girlfriends, spouses to the abortion clinic, to have a member of their family killed.

We have learned recently that aborted baby parts are sold. We see the photos and hear the testimonies of those who are Silent No More, bravely sharing their abortion stories.

What more do we need?
Do we need to see the examination tables? The incinerators? The refrigerators that hold aborted babies - referred to mockingly as “nurseries” in abortion clinics?

One quote near the end of the museum stayed with me. Martin Niemoller, an early Nazi supporter who was later imprisoned for opposing Hitler’s regime, said. “First they came for the socialists, I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

There is hope
But there is hope, for many are taking to the streets to speak out for those who have no voice - the unborn. I believe this is the generation that will end abortion.

The two Memorial signs that are seen on the literature, magnets, mugs are:  “Never Again.” and “What You do Matters.” This museum wishes to keep the Holocaust memory alive as a force for change—inspiring people to confront hate, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.

The theme of this year’s March for Life was “Love Saves Lives.” Together with loving action, we will be the generation that abolishes abortion so that one day there will no longer need to be a March for Life.
Participants of the first March for Life were interviewed and one lady said they did not think it would take so long - they figured two maybe three years and the Roe v Wade decision would be reversed. But 45 years later, we still march.

And I’ll continue to march and lead groups to march until the dignity of life is respected and protected.

prol ife generation

Photo by Colleen Miner
Ellen Miner of Saranac Lake, a student at Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland; and Leagon Carlin, of Plattsburgh, a diocesan seminarian at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, were among the tens of thousands of college students at the 2018 March for Life in Washington. Ellen’s parents, John and Colleen Miner of Saranac Lake, are directors of the diocesan Respect Life office. Here, Mrs. Miner looks back on 22 years of marching for life, noting that Ellen joined them before she could walk.


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