A group of Chanute teenagers took a bus trip to Washington, DC, to attend last week’s March for Life and to listen to a speech by President Donald Trump.
Three students from Chanute Christian Academy and 12 members of St. Patrick Catholic Church who attend Chanute High School took the trip, part of a group organized by the Wichita Diocese. Vicki Fleming, who teaches government at CCA and is in the youth ministry of St. Patrick, was among five adults from Chanute on the trip with the students.
The group of eight boys and seven girls left Chanute on the afternoon of Jan. 21 and rode to Pittsburg, where they joined students from Independence, Coffeyville and Frontenac along with another busload from Pittsburg.
Fleming said the Chanute and Pittsburg buses were slightly ahead of the rest of the state contingent, which totaled more than 700 people in 17 buses. She said they took up three-fourths of the rooms in the hotel where they stayed in DC.
They arrived in Washington Wednesday afternoon and spent Thursday sight-seeing. They visited the National Basilica, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the National Archives, and the Holocaust Museum.
“When you don’t respect life, this is what happens,” Fleming said about the Holocaust Museum. “That’s what we’re doing here.”
The day of the march began with a rally at the hotel. They went to the National Mall and to the steps of the Supreme Court building, and Fleming said they tried to arrive as early as possible to get close to the President.
There was a concert by the Irish band We Are Messengers, followed by a speech on video by Vice President Mike Pence who was visiting the Vatican. President Trump’s speech in person was a break from previous practice.
CCA senior Amelia Burton said she enjoyed seeing the President and had never seen him before. She also said the changing of the guard stood out for her.
“He had a lot of good things to say,” CCA sophomore Kaleb Bradford said.
The event included about a dozen speakers including Senators and women who survived malpractice during abortions. The march ended at about 3 pm, and the students took a night tour of monuments.
The next day, the group toured Arlington National Cemetery and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. The group left Washington Saturday afternoon and returned to Chanute Sunday afternoon.
CHS sophomore Gabriel Gahagan said it was moving to see others stand up against abortion. Sophomore Stark Wright said everyone was super nice, and most were college or high school age.
It was the fourth trip to Washington for Wright and his second to attend the March for Life. It also was the second March for Fleming. Sophomore Trey Smoot, who was born in Minnesota and spent time in Canada before coming to Chanute in the fourth grade, said he enjoyed the Washington subway. He said it reminded him of Canada.
“We should be more appreciative of life,” CHS senior Sherlin Ralon said, adding that everyone has a purpose.
“Some of us don’t know it yet,” she said.
Fleming encouraged others to go in the future.
“We will march until there isn’t a reason to march anymore,” she said.