Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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“The” March on Washington

1963 March on WashingtonAs I was preparing to head out the door today to catch the Metro to downtown DC, I discovered that things would be a little busy on the National Mall. It turns out that this Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech. Rather than wait for Wednesday, they are commemorating the anniversary today with a rally.

All over the place the media are referring to the event in 1963 as “The March on Washington.” I remember learning about MLK and his speech, but this was the first time I remember hearing this rather curious title for the whole event. A little research led me to discover that the event in 1963 was billed as the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” I also discovered that the estimated attendance was about 200 to 300 thousand.

Here’s the thing the strikes me: somewhere along the line the media starting referring to this event simply as “The March on Washington,” as if everyone should know exactly what they are referring to. Perhaps the MLK speech does raise it to that sort of rhetorical level. Still, I can’t help but point out that this march of 300 thousand people happened ONCE 50 years ago. There is another march in Washington of over 500 thousand people that happens EVERY year and is about something much more important than jobs or even freedom. I am of course referring to the March for Life.

As important as this Wednesday’s anniversary is, if you were to ask a young person today about “The” March on Washington…there’s a good chance they will assume you mean the March for Life.

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