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Cleveland Youth Rally for Life #43
by Attorney Joseph Patrick Meissner

For 43 years, pro-life people have publicly witnessed for the unborn babies in downtown Cleveland during the freezing January season. Since 1981 these Pro Life Rallies have been dedicated to our youth who enjoy first opportunity on speaking at the Rally.

For several decades the rallies have been held on Cleveland Public Square. Then a few years ago, as the Public Square was redone and also closed to the public, we switched to the "Free Stamp" sculpture as our site to sponsor the rallies.

This past year the golden moment arrived and Public Square has been completely refurbished except for preserving the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument and a few other statues. The long standing (actually sitting) Tom L. Johnson has become the main site for freedom of speech events. So in front of Tom we exercised our constitutional right to witness for the unborn children and pregnant mothers.

Here was the flyer inviting everyone to attend our event.

2017 Cleveland Youth Rally for Life flyer

There are many we speak out for. They cannot speak out for themselves, so we lend our voices. These are the defenseless and vulnerable we list in the email flyer. We have speakers for many of these on the square.

So at noon the bells at the nearby Old Stone Church seemed to ring without cease, calling all Clevelanders and reminding us of all the tiny precious unborn children killed this past ear in our Cleveland area.

Robert Nettgen, the MC for the rally, calls all to attention as the last bell sings out her call. Robert is our technical expert for decades who gets and sets up the sound equipment for the speakers. He introduces our 43rd annual event and calls up the Christian Academy choir who lead us in the Star Spangled Banner hymn.

Choir from Christian Academy sings Star Spangled banner to begin pro-life program,

Choir from Christian Academy sings Star Spangled banner
to begin pro-life program

Then a young man steps forward to lead us in a Pledge of Allegiance. "Which ever direction you saluted," Nettgen states after, "you are facing a high-flying American flag atop these buildings."

He then introduces the various young men and women. They speak about the science of how each human being is conceived in his or her mother's womb and how we must respect and appreciate each one. The youth express the sad fact that over 50 million have been killed since the Court's 1973 Roe and Doe decisions

Students from Lake Erie Catholic brave the Cleveland chilly weather to advocate for the unborn children and all vulnerable human beings

Students from Lake Erie Catholic brave the Cleveland chilly weather to advocate for the unborn children and all vulnerable human beings

One young man reads his school paper criticizing our pro-abortion society.

Another young woman reads a letter she has composed from the unborn baby to her Mother. "Please give me my life," the baby pleads. "I will be a good child and take care of you."

Pro life youth speaker

Another five-person choir sings for us. Then a young man plays Ken's guitar for another singing group of youth. Did I mention that the whole time we witnessed, there was an a anti-Trump group across the green grass yelling at us and spouting pro-choice slogans. At first a few of our youth yelled back, but I said, "No, let us welcome them. God has sent them to us today so we can educate them about life." These may even be future St. Paul's.

I would like to include more of the young peoples speeches. Unfortunately we did not record these. But we do have some of what the post-26 year olds said. Here are some of Attorney Bob Lynch's ideas. (Bob is an outstanding lawyer for life who has defended many pro-life defendants in court. Should I mention that Bob is very adroit at driving his electric wheel chair over any sidewalk hurdles.)

Attorney Bob Lynch speaks out on behalf of the physically challenged

Attorney Bob Lynch speaks out on behalf of the physically challenged

"In our pro-life work, here are some guidelines. Number one, I say that God has to be part of your pro-life work no matter where you are and when you are. Number 2, I say: follow the Bible quote about being sure that you can give the reason for the hope that is within you. Number three, I recall the story of the pro-life Catholics accompanying pro-life non-catholics who ate and were in jail together for a whole night singing and reading the Bible and they all came out thinking positively of the others' mode of belief. This spiritual context bonds pro-lifers together. End of story"

Crowd with pro-life signs calling for respect for the right to life of all

Ken Sundermeier, pro-life activist and protester for decades, was the next speaker. "Here is what I remember that I said to the youth," states Ken.

"I spoke on God who wants us to strive lawfully in the Battle for Life, and for the need to fully trust Jesus beyond our own understanding when it comes to the hard cases, or so-called "hard cases" concerning abortion. Medical technology can consistently save both mother and child, and when it comes to the Republican Governors who hold to incest and rape exceptions for the killing of the baby we never find God going that way. God speaks of stopping rape, sometimes with the death penalty for the rapist, but never speaks of killing the baby."

"Finally, I did mention two very dedicated individuals who wanted to save the unborn babies. But they each went the wrong way. They killed abortionist doctors and are in jail for life. We do not question their dedication, but they were absolutely wrong in what they did. That is not our path. We oppose all such violence and preach a way of love and mercy. We say pray for the abortionists."

Katie Uhler spoke on behalf of the immigrants, the undocumented children, and other so-called illegal immigrants. She has done much work on their behalf including on the borders in Texas.

Here is part of her speech: "I am taking off my hat to show you youth my all-white hair and I say, I wanted you to see how old I am. I met Joe Meissner in 1974 to speak against abortion after the shocking Roe-Wade Decision. That was then. Now, I am the 'selected' Chair of the Cleveland Children's Coalition, a division of the Friendship Foundation. Our focus is to assist the migrant and refugee children from Central America, and the Middle East. These children come to this country like your own Grandfathers, Grandmothers and relatives who came from somewhere else.

"I ask you to do two things; first write a few letters: one letter to President Trump. In your letter, welcome President Trump and tell him you are happy he is pro-life and against abortion. Then, ask him what he is going to do for these migrant children. He is a President without political experience but a lot of 'business sense'. Because of that, state that you'll pray for him.

"Secondly, write a letter to Governor John Kasich and ask him why he vetoed the "Heart-beat bill". This extra sound within a mother is not the beating heart of a piece of lettuce or a turtle. It is the beating heart of another person. I know semantics get in the way of

the word 'person'. We know that even corporations have a 'personhood'! So, write those two letters.

"Thanks for coming. God bless all of you."

Speaker Bai McFarlane from Mary's Advocates speaks in support of traditional marriage. "This is God's way for insuring that children have two loving parents, one male and one female, to raise them to adults"

Bai McFarlane from Mary's Advocates

Bai McFarlane from Mary's Advocates

A third speaker was our MC Robert Nettgen. Here are his well-spoken words.

"How many of you are 16 years old? (some hands go up) I first met Joe Meissner when I was 16 years old. He was then the president of Cleveland Right to Life. That was a few decades ago. How many of you are 14 years old? I was 14 years old when I joined the pro-life movement. That was 4 decades ago!

Being pro-file is not something you do for a little while but for years and years. Even if Row v. Wade was overturned tomorrow, Abortion would still go on. People find a way to do what they want to do. If the heartbeat bill passed tomorrow, amazingly enough, technicians would stop finding fetal heartbeats.

So therefore, more than changing laws, we need to change people's hearts. What you can do is to be there, as a pro-life voice to your friends and people around you. It can be hard - even in Christian schools and Catholic schools, you will find that people are not perfect. You will find people who disagree with you or fight you. There has only been one perfect person in over 2,000 years.

We can all be tempted. You need to be that pro-life voice to those people. You could be the one who changes someone's heart on the issue of abortion saves the life of an unborn baby. "

Youth Rally for Life Cleveland 2017

I was the last speaker before the warm and generous ending prayer of Reverend Jim Jones of 85 years old. Here are my seven points, no, it was eight points:

"First, I ask you what do the pregnancy centers which help pregnant mothers need in order to survive, of course, love and dedication, but they also need money. There are rents and electric bills. So every year we take up a collection for them. This year a pro-life sponsor has promised to match your contributions at five to one. You give one dollar and they will match with five dollars. Some staff will be passing among you with the contribution containers. Reach into your wallets and purses and help.

Youth Rally for Life Cleveland 2017

"Second, see the crowd screaming at you across the way? Turn to them and shout a huge 'God loves you.'" So the young people turned and sent a wave of love across the field.

"Third, we must always remember two pioneer women who contributed so much to our national and world movement. How many of you have heard of Attorney Nellie Grey? How many of you have heard of Dr. Mildred Jefferson? (Many raise their hands.)

Lawyer Grey started the March for Life and led these for years. Dr. Jefferson, a longtime champion of the National Right to Life movement, was the first person of Afro-American heritage to graduate from Harvard Medical school. If she had been 'pro-choice,' I bet she would have been more celebrated by the media like another Afro-American who came from Harvard.

"Fourth, there are others here who defend human lives. They, our committed police officers, are standing behind us on the sidewalk to protect our rights. Let us turn toward them and loudly proclaim, 'Thank you.'" (They all sang out their thank-you's."

"Fifth, I am certain that nothing ever gets lost in this universe. God preserves all. Over 50 million unborn have been killed. But they have not disappeared. They are all watching you now and they are waiting to greet us in eternity. They will ask us what did we do to stop this evil of abortion? What will you respond?

"Sixth, this is the first time we pro-life people have returned to Cleveland Public Square since its renewal. Let us once again dedicate this public space to standing for the right to life of every human being. Do we have a motion for that? (Somebody shouted out a Motion for That.)

Youth Rally for Life Cleveland 2017

"All in favor say YES." A huge approval from all reaches to the sky. So Cleveland Public Square once again stands for respecting all human lives from conception onward.

"Seventh, we have some presentations. Virginia Hanley, come on down. She is the one who manages this Rally. We present her with this rose bouquet of many colors reminding us of all members of the human family. The rose is the official symbol and flower of our movement. Thank you, Virginia, for all you do. (She accepts the roses.)

Next is Rob Nettgen who receives his bouquet and has a special request."

Rob steps forward and hold his bouquet, "Mr. Bork, Step forward, He is the teacher who brought all these many fine Christian Academy students here today and he deserves these roses along with his students."

It is now my eighth and final part of my speech. "Let us always remember those who have gone before us as our inspirational examples of love, non-violence, justice and peace for all: Dr.. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and the great Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen."

Reverend Jones said our final prayer as the Church bells tolled out the conclusion.

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