March for Life president Jeannie Mancini has said that, “Without Virginia Knights of Columbus, there would be no March for Life.”
From getting permits and working with law enforcement to marshaling the participants, Virginia Knights have long played a crucial role in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., since it was first held in 1974.
And they are continuing their role at the 47th March for Life, which takes place on January 24.
More than a hundred Virginia Knights volunteered at the March for Life during the past few years alone. Each January, in their role as marshals, they direct attendees to rally locations, escort speakers and special guests to and from the main stage, and keep marchers organized behind the “March for Life” banner.
Over the years, the Knights’ responsibilities expanded due to the growing attendance. Some serve at the first-aid tents, while others help reconnect lost persons to the group they travelled to the March with.
Thom Harrington, a member of George Brent Council 5332 in Manassas, Va., and a board member of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, has served as a marshal since the mid-1990s. He handled several lost persons cases, including an elderly marcher who got separated from his group and had no way of contacting them. Harrington and other Knights located the group’s leader and coordinated a meetup to re-united the man with his group later that day.
Behind-the-scenes paperwork and logistical planning help get the march off the ground. Harrington and his brother Knights acquire the necessary permits from the U.S. National Park Service, the D.C. Metropolitan Police and U.S. Capitol Police. They also coordinate with the Supreme Court police staff and local fire departments.
“We’ve professionalized it,” Harrington said. “We work very well with [local authorities].”
The March for Life is an integral part of the Knights of Columbus’ commitment to pro-life causes that also includes the Ultrasound Initiative and the Culture of Life Fund. That work continues to make an impact, with more than 1,000 ultrasounds being placed in pregnancy resource centers around the globe.
For Harrington, working with the Knights in the pro-life movement has been a humbling experience.
“I’m just in awe of the responsibility and the gift I’ve been given to do this,” he said. “It’s really the best folks in the world that come to the March for Life. They don’t argue, they don’t bully or shout other than with joyful stuff. They’re just a really happy crowd. So it’s a lot of fun working the event.”
To learn more about the Knights and their history with the March for Life, click here.
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