The other family members had school and work to hold them down, so after giving them the additional job of keeping the house intact and the pets fed, my wife Micki, son Andy and daughter Disa and I hopped into our loaded car and headed off from Branson, Missouri to the March for Life in Washington D.C. This is how we would celebrate Micki's birthday, January 25th.
We had two days to get there, one day to sightsee, one day for prayer and spiritual reflection, one day for the Rally and the March for Life, two days to get Andy to Conception Abbey in NW Missouri, and one day to get back home -- eight days in all.
We reached the Appalachians in the dark, and in the snow. It was creepy and tense, playing leap frog with the constant semi trucks that crawled uphill and sped downhill. And despite the wisps of snow on the highway, everyone drove around 70 mph. Not seeing any cars had slid off the road, I figured the locals knew best, and I followed suit at 70.
From there it takes twenty minutes to reach the National Mall in D.C., which is surrounded by the immense museums of the Smithsonian Institute. By the time our three-day visit was over, we had become fairly adept at using the subway, which travels both underground and on elevated rails, over its own bridge, stopping at the Reagan National Airport, etc.
We took our time enjoying the Air and Space Museum, where I again saw the famous planes I had seen 46 years ago, as well as many others, including the predator drone I encourage people to shoot down if they spot one.
From the Gallery of Art we walked outside through the Sculpture Gardens, where we saw fascinating stuff, including an entire tree made out of metal, and a strange house sculpture that makes you dizzy and you pass it. In the Gardens, beside the outdoor ice skating rink, we came upon and took advantage of a very costly restaurant.
Micki and Disa and I were very tired of walking by now and wanted to head back to the motel, but Andy wanted to stay longer. So we separated. Back at the motel, it was getting pretty late and Andy was still out there somewhere. It turned out that his cell phone battery died, and that he was given misleading directions walking back from the Huntington station in the bitter cold, and ended up at some Walmart about a mile away where he used their phone to call us.
After the Mass, Andy gave us a brief tour of the works of art throughout the Basilica, and we were surprised to happen upon Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, and we received his blessing.
On our way back to the motel, I had Micki drive, so she could cope with Andy's Android phone giving GPS directions through the crazy D.C. streets and highways. I no longer had the patience. GPS is great for country roads and small towns, and perhaps even organized cities, but in the District of Columbia the instructions had us going in frustrating circles, and it was miraculous that we avoided getting into an accident. Although people there ignore each other, they do seem quite patient with you on the road.
The next day was the day of the March for Life, preceded by the Rally in the National Mall, and we intended to visit the Aquarium beforehand. We took the subway, and walked to the Aquarium, but finding it too expensive, especially for the short time we had, and smaller than the indoor zoo where Andy works in Branson, we gave it up, and instead tried to find a restroom and eat a bite before the Rally. This was not easy, since half a million people had the same idea, but we managed to find a back way into a nice food court with a wide variety of foods, and restrooms, and no lines!
The Rally was different this year, I had read. In years past it lasted about three hours, but this year it was only an hour and a half. Also added were huge video screens so most all the people could get a glimpse of the speakers on stage. Among the select speakers was Sean Cardinal O'Malley, who had officiated at the Mass we attended at the Basilica. Standing with him were Eastern Orthodox priests who sang a memorial for March for Life founder, Nellie Gray, music so beautiful that we were sorry when it ended. Also someone read the tweet sent to all of us by Pope Benedict XVI: "I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life."
Meandering into the Rally, we came upon some Knights of Columbus who were giving out signs on long sticks, that simply said "Defend Life." We gladly took some, and when I asked if there was a charge for them, the man just laughed it off. No problem, giving them away; there were only 650,000 people there. Thank you, Knights of Columbus!
After the Rally, it took us about an hour just to move to the street to begin the March, there were so many people! And it was so cold that my legs got stiff, and when I finally stepped off the curb and onto the street, I almost fell over. Along the line I got a little chuckle around me when I said, "Whatever happened to the body heat idea anyway?"
Now and then we could see police along the way, and drivers stuck in traffic. Washington D.C. was at a standstill, at least between the Smithsonian and the Supreme Court. We finally managed to contact Andy by cell phone, and he would be waiting for us in front of the Supreme Court, on the other side of the Capitol.
And there, in front of the Supreme Court, several women who have had an abortion spoke and told of their tragic experiences and regrets. Many tears were shed, including Micki's. Meanwhile Disa went to find Andy, and the four of us were together again.
I won't even go into the trouble we had in the congestion at the subway station, but rest assured we finally got back to the motel. That evening I was pooped and rested while Micki and Andy took Disa out to fulfill one of her dreams -- visiting Georgetown Cupcakes, makers of one of her favorite TV shows, "D.C. Cupcakes." They brought back a box of a variety of fantastic cupcake creations, and we had a little celebration after the long, cold, incredible day.
Andy had called ahead to friends, seminarians, who prepared adjoining rooms for Micki and Disa and I to stay in for the night at Conception Abbey. Meanwhile Andy stayed there to see how he would like the school, and remained when we left. His friends would bring him home later that week. I couldn't help myself; at the Abbey's bookstore I bought a beautiful edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, published by Ignatius Press.
That evening we returned home, after eight days, finding everything intact and well taken care of by those who had stayed behind. We only had to replace our daughter Julia's paint set, after one of our little grandsons created some controversial artwork.
About 500,000 people attended Woodstock in 1969, enjoying a weekend of drugs, sex, and rock music. They clogged a New York freeway. About 650,000 people attended the D.C. March for Life in 2013, trying to save the lives of countless unborn babies. They clogged the Nation's Capital. Which event gets the most press by the mainstream media? We are very thankful for the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) who covered the entire March for Life in real time.
Perhaps one of these years we'll see you there. Meanwhile let's do what we can to end the tragedy of abortion, the disgrace of our Nation.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.