It should not surprise us that most of the media got the story wrong. The Associated Press reported the death of Miss Nellie Gray. Here's how they covered her passing: "Nellie Gray, the founder and chief organizer of an annual anti-abortion march in Washington and a leader in efforts to overturn the..." The New York Times referred to Nellie as "Abortion Foe." Huffington Post called her the "founder of anti-abortion march." Even the Washington Examiner, which ought to know better, echoed that "anti-abortion march" moniker.
The Washington Post, which normally consigns the tens of thousands of March for Life participants to the Metro section, at least credited Nellie with being founder of just that, The March for Life. Why should any of this matter?
Okay, let's imagine you're viewing an ultrasound image. You see that miracle of life stirring within. Out of the darkness a voice says: Let's terminate it. But you agree with TIME Magazine columnist Joe Klein. "You can't deny that that thing in the womb is a human being." So you cry out: No, don't kill her. Or him.
Ah, now you're an Anti. With the exception of the Post (which realizes it still has to sell newspapers to some of us), most of the mainstream media routinely reported an untruth. Nellie Gray never led a single anti-abortion march. Not one in forty years. Her March for Life was as exuberant and lively a PRO-LIFE event as you could ask for. It has become increasingly a young people's march in recent years.
Ronald Reagan was acutely aware of public persuasion. He was the first national politician to say, "I'm pro-life." He knew that being always identified with the "anti" position was a disadvantage. I will always remember January 1985. It was the time of President Reagan's Second Inaugural. Since the 20th fell on a Sunday that year, the public ceremony was slated for the following Monday. But a severe Arctic blast came down from Canada. Temperatures plummeted dangerously. For the first time in history, the Presidential Inauguration was taken indoors. And the Inaugural parade was canceled. It was just too dangerous to let all those units of Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard march down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Nellie Gray's March for Life was scheduled for January 22nd. Would she, too, cancel? Not on your life! The March for Life went ahead as it has gone on, rain or shine, snow or hail. There is literally nothing like this event in all of American history. There has never been such a popular outpouring of principle and purpose. I have pleaded to our friends to clean up after the March for Life. I'm continually embarrassed by all the trash we leave behind. I point out that at Dr. King's famous March on Washington in 1963, there was not so much as a gum wrapper, Coke can, or cigarette butt left behind.
To be fair, the City of Washington doesn't really welcome the March for Life by putting out nearly enough trash receptacles. You can always rely, however, on the cops being friendly. Even their horses are friendly.
Having said that, as long as God gives me strength, I'll be there at the March for Life. I started marching as a young man. I'm now a grandfather.
There's a famous quote from London that applies here. When Sir Christopher Wren re-built the wooden city that had burned, this famed architect rebuilt it in stone, better and more beautiful. His epitaph reads:
If you seek his monument, look around you.
The same is true of Nellie Gray. Come to Washington, D.C. next January 25th. Unless a miracle intervenes, that's when we'll observe the fortieth anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling. If you come to the March for Life, you will see the tens of thousands of young people, celebrating life, so hopeful for change. If you then seek Nellie Gray's monument, look around you.