Junior Kathleen Russo, president of the Hillsdale Students for Life, organized the trip to Washington, D.C., for Hillsdale students, who rode there on two buses the night before the march.
“At Hillsdale, we hear about all these big, important ideas like human rights. The march is an opportunity to apply what we learn to real life,” Russo said. “It also keeps students in mind of service. It’s not a pleasure trip. They don’t have much free time.”
Before the march, as students congregated on the steps of the National Museum of American History, president of the March for Life Jeanne Mancini greeted protestors at a rally.
“You are part of the largest annual human rights demonstration in the world,” Mancini said.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also spoke at the rally via telecast from the Rose Garden. Trump said his administration is committed to supporting the pro-life movement.
“Today, I’m honored and really proud to be the first President to stand with you here at the White House to address the 45th March for Life,” Trump said. “You come from many backgrounds, many places. But you all come for one beautiful cause: to build a society where life is celebrated, protected, and cherished.”
Trump reminded marchers that last year he reinstated the Reagan-era Mexico City policy, which blocks federal funding from going to foreign non-governmental organizations that offer abortion advocacy or referrals.
Associate Professor of German Fred Yaniga, a co-advisor to Students for Life along with Professor of English Michael Jordan, said the president’s presence, even remotely, inspired the marchers.
“It’s good for the dynamic and the spirit of the crowd,” Yaniga said, “good to have an administration that backs the cause.”
Yaniga said he worried the student attendance at the march would be smaller than last year, but that wasn’t the case.
“I love to see Hillsdale students motivated from words to actions,” Yaniga said. “It’s a fantastic group to be part of.”
Junior Bobbie Briggs, who attended the march last year, painted several signs for students to carry during their walk down the National Mall. One that she held read, “A real feminist chooses life.”
“It’s because life is life, and even in the womb, a woman’s life matters,” Briggs said. “You can’t just pick and choose based on location which life is valuable.”
Andrew Egger ’17, who attended the march as a reporter for the Weekly Standard, said he noticed a positive attitude among the marchers.
“I was sort of surprised that this event — which is about protesting a sort of grave evil that is sort of infesting our country — was such a hopeful and positive and even upbeat affair,” Egger said. “It’s a cause that’s just sort of fundamentally decent and vibrant and joyful, which is that life is worth celebrating.”
The morning of the march, the House of Representatives passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill to require doctors to care for babies born alive during an abortion or an abortion attempt.
Senior Ilsa Epling said when she heard the news, she felt the atmosphere around her shift.
“Word about the passage through the House of the Born-Alive bill started to come through, and the already hopeful feeling in the air just got amped up beyond description,” Epling said. “The vibe at the last march was cautious optimism; this year, it was buoyant hope, and it was beautiful.”