Every Year we have the privilege of working with thousands of Georgians to host our annual Together for Life Memorial Service. There are many people who help to make TFL a reality and bring it all together from the sound men, the speakers, the schools, the trumpet players, and so many more. This year we wanted to feature a woman who is with us every year. You might have seen her before. She is the first trumpet player that starts off the walk and plays Taps. She often has a child with her to celebrate the occasion, and this year she is with us again. We asked her to share a few thoughts on why Together for Life is an event not just for her,but for her own family.
Joselyn Schultz’s Account of TFL:
Why do you come to TFL year after year?
To stand up for the mothers and babies, to remember the lost, to make doing so natural for my children, and because there is a need that I can fill.
I play taps to say farewell to the lost children, usually at the start and end of the march. They are not forgotten.
Why do your bring your children? I want this just to be “what we do” for them. The first memory I have of knowing I was pro-life was my own father mentioning that we might go to a life chain, back in the early 90s. We didn’t end up going, but it established for me that “we’re pro-life.” For the ones too young to know what “abortion” means, I tell them “we’re going to tell everyone that we love babies & mothers and to pray for the ones who are scared or alone or facing hard times and don’t know what to do.” I also know it’s a really powerful testimony to life to see that sweet little one in the sling bound to mama, and also a poignant image to those who commit themselves to the memorial walk to see a growing young family standing up for life.
How did you become pro-life?
I’m not sure. I never recall being otherwise, even while I never recall being told anything about abortion or told we should be against it. I think it’s just natural that children are pro-life, as long as they don’t have another agenda pushed on them. For my own children, I tell them, when they ask and are old enough, what abortion is in fairly gentle terms (ending a pregnancy) and because they know what a pregnancy is (having read picture books on fetal development and had several new siblings!), and how precious life is, it horrifies them without me having to say anything else.
They know exactly what that means, even at 7 years old, and instinctively know it’s horrible. (We also discuss how we don’t judge those who do bad things, but rather, pray for them.) I don’t have any memory of that happening for me, but since no one brainwashed me into thinking murdering unborn babies is ok, I think I just figured it out for myself. I was in high school before my father mentioned the life chain, and it seemed very sensible then, so I must have had some sense that abortion was not only a bad idea, but something to oppose, by then, even though my parents didn’t talk about it, that I recall. Reading John Paul II on the infinite dignity and worth of every human being, and seeing the example of pro-lifers like Joe Scheidler and dedicated local people certainly had the effect of, in the words of Fr. Frank Pavone, “mobilizing the convinced.” What do your children get from it? I think it’s just one more aspect of a total picture of what respect for life looks like. Whether it’s bringing meals to ailing great-grandparents, praying at a clinic, or playing taps at a memorial walk for the unborn, they are learning that we stand up for the defenseless. It’s another way to live Matthew 25, serving Christ in “the least of these.” I believe they’re internalizing the value of life and the importance of not just believing, but acting on what you believe in. Not just having principles, but standing up for them. Do you have a memory from TFL that you would like to share, maybe what impacted you the 1st time you came, etc. It’s potent every time. I love seeing the teenagers, the nuns & cassocked young priests, people of every race and color. The women holding the “I Regret My Abortion” signs a few years ago were unbelievably powerful. They play a huge part in helping us to remember the other victims of abortion. A few times, there have been women pushing empty strollers, sometimes with a sign memorializing the child missing from that stroller.
Signs thanking their mothers for adopting them are powerful. One year, there were counter-protesters on the first corner. I went to talk to them, hoping to keep them engaged long enough to let the march go by in silence. I ended up having a great conversation with a local NOW leader who really didn’t care much about abortion; she was interested in mothers’ rights against deadbeat dads. The college students around her were listening to our conversation, and very interested in hearing that abortion actually compounds, rather than lessens, the problems of rape. Some were throwing ad hominem attacks back rather than addressing my points, and others seemed irritated that their companions were interrupting me. We had a really good discussion going, when one of them suddenly remembered she was supposed to be shouting and went back to streaming out slogans: Rosaries Off Our Ovaries and whatnot. Fortunately, by that time, most of the crowd had gone by. I brought literature to the march for a few years after that, to help in any abortion discussions that may have arisen, but we haven’t had any other hecklers in the part of the march that I see. I’ve often wished I could march one year, to see what happens the rest of the route, but I’m really very content to be able to play the part I’m blessed to play.
The second year (I think this is our 8th year) or so, I was kneeling on the Courtland bridge when what looked to be a GSU student approached us. She looked very, shall we say, counter-cultural in dress, and I fully expected her to come and lambast me for “shoving your religion down our throats” or “sending women back to the back alley” or whatever. When she got close, she asked if she could join me, and we finished the Rosary together. God works in mysterious ways!
God bless! Joselyn Schutz