Reflections on Memorial Day
By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
Tradition matters, and surely one of America’s best traditions is remembering the brave men and women who lost their lives defending our country’s freedoms.
Memorial Day weekend should be bittersweet. We mourn the loss of soldiers, sailors, and airmen who gave their lives so that we could enjoy the rights we as Americans hold dear. But at the same time we celebrate with picnics and parades, barbecues and ball games, honoring our ancestors by living life to the fullest.
Growing up, I experienced my family’s Memorial Day tradition of visiting the cemetery where my maternal grandparents were buried. We wordlessly climbed the picturesque hill, my mother, father, my sister, and I, silently praying for my mother’s beloved parents.
My grandmother had passed from this life even before I was born. My grandfather died when I was a baby. So, in essence, I knew them only through family photographs, my mother’s stories, and gravesite remembrances.
This Memorial Day, I am thinking too of the powerful memorials that have been erected to babies who died as a result of legal abortion. One stands at a church of my childhood. I’ve never been able to pass that marker without pausing to pray for not only the children who died, but also for the mothers, fathers, and grandparents who continue to grieve them.
It is vitally important as a nation that we honor our history, and that means honoring those who played a part in that history as well. So I am thinking too this Memorial Day weekend of pro-life pioneers who peacefully prevailed upon their countrymen to abandon abortion. To mention any specifically would be at the risk of overlooking those great pro-life champions stretching all the way back to the 1970s.
But for those who do not understand our Movement, they might not grasp why there is a special place for pro-life converts—people such as Norma McCorvey, the “Roe” of Roe v. Wade, who had a profound change of heart and became passionately pro-life.
I think too of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a founding member of the pro-abortion lobbying group NARAL. Dr. Nathanson did a complete about-face, from an abortionist who “presided” over more than 75,000 abortions to a man who campaigned vigorously for respect for life.
These dearly departed heroes of the pro-life movement passed on a life-affirming legacy which is being lived out, day by day, by everyone from pregnancy center volunteers to students competing in the National Right to Life oratory contest.
It has been truly said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. My special hope this Memorial Day weekend is that there will come a time when the ravages of Roe have ended. A time when no additional memorials to aborted children need to be erected. And a time when the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–principles which many veterans sacrificed their lives for– can be enjoyed by all Americans at all ages and stages of life.