Editor’s note: Development Associate Sam Hardwick reflects on what it means to “March for Life.”

“What does it mean to ‘March for Life’?” This was the question that buzzed around my head the day of the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on January 19. Looking around at all of the people during the Mass at the Capital One Arena (which, by the way, was HUGE, like a billion people at that mass; it was incredible) and during the rally on the National Mall, the answer seemed to be “we march for the rights of the unborn and those waiting on death row.” This is a pretty satisfying answer. The unborn do not have the ability to speak up for themselves and we are called, as Christians, as Catholics, and as Franciscans, especially, to stand for those who have no voice. But for some reason, this answer didn’t touch my heart, it wasn’t moving me. I was being called to delve deeper into why I was there.

So, I started looking around more. I stopped looking at the signs and I started looking at the people holding them. So many different faces! I’ve never seen so many different people in one place before: children running away from their parents; teenagers, in their awkward stage; talking, young adult hipsters sitting in a circle on the ground singing “Kumbaya”; a group of Franciscans playing the game “ninja”’; old ladies laughing—all from different places and backgrounds, all gathered for the same cause. As I looked around, it dawned on me that these people weren’t here for the “airy” or “far-off” idea of unborn rights. They were there to bear witness to what it means to be alive, to show what it looks like when you are alive. All of these different people were there to show that to live, to really live, is to be of service to others and in this case, stand for the rights of all.

What struck me most about all of these people was the joy with which they held themselves while being there. Literally everyone! Even at 6 am, there was laughter and excitement for the day. A smile was always returned with a smile. It showed that to serve joyfully is to live. To March for Life is to March for Joy. That everyone—conceived, born, alive, imprisoned, free, scared, alone—have the opportunity to be of service to others and to God, and through that, have the opportunity to be joyful. That is what it means to March for Life.

Reflection question: What does “serving joyfully” mean to you?