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Home About Action News Fall 2003 Maryland Tour

Fall 2003 ACTION NEWS | VOL. XXII No. 3

Father and Son Rally the Troops on Maryland Truth Tour

Group Photo in MD

FROM LEFT: Eric Scheidler, Joe Scheidler, Jack Ames, Ambassador Margaret Heckler, Fr. Peter West

by Eric Scheidler

Two intensive weeks of Face the Truth in Chicagoland weren't enough for my father and me, so on July 28 we flew to Baltimore to join Jack Ames and Defend Life for the first two days of their third annual Maryland Face the Truth tour. It included a dramatic stop at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

Cookie Harris and Sandy Korzeik picked us up at BWI Airport and drove us to Fredrick, MD, where we joined a hundred volunteers for the last stop of the day. Public reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with friendly honks and thumbs-up signs from most passers-by. The pro-life crew was energetic and upbeat. One negative reaction was from a young man who spewed profanities and declared his love for abortion; we mostly tried to ignore him, realizing his great need for prayers.

The "Face" in Face the Truth

That evening we attended a dinner for the Face the Truth crew at St. Peter's Church in Libertytown. During dessert my father and I were asked to say a few words to the gathering. Dad commented on the wave of optimism sweeping through the pro-life movement in the wake of the 8-1 Supreme Court victory in NOW v. Scheidler. I remarked that part of the "face" in a Face the Truth tour is the face of Christ that we show to the world, and to each other. After dinner, Jody Hammond drove us to our hotel in Rockville, near the next morning's site.

Albert Stecklein met us in the morning and we drove to the site. While Dad held a sign along the road and was berated as a "terrorist" by a shopper at the nearby mall, I marched up and down the lines, helping to organize the display for greatest effect. My cousin Elsa Hoffman joined us at this site and helped Dad chase off the hecklers.

Sr. Nancy in D.C.

Sr. Nancy in D.C. [Photo by Pavel Chichikov]

The highlight of this site for me was meeting Olga Fairfax, long-time activist and founder of Methodists for Life, an organization she later left when she became a Catholic. Throughout the day, "Crazy Olga" shared some of her hilarious pro-life war stories with me. Olga makes pro-life activism fun, at least in hindsight.

Next we were off to Washington, D.C. for Mass at Annunciation Church celebrated by Fr. Peter West of Priests for Life. We had been with him only a few days earlier during his visit to the Chicago Truth tour. Our next tour stop was on Massachusetts Avenue, across from the Naval Observatory and the home of the Vice-President.

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Trouble with the D.C. Cops

Our dealings with law enforcement got complicated at this site, as officers of the Secret Service, Capitol Police and D.C. Metro Police all arrived at different times and issued contradictory instructions. The incompetence of the D.C. Metro Police was troubling. One officer insisted that people have a First Amendment right not to see disturbing pictures. His superior informed us that we were "blocking the sidewalk" even though our signs were in the grass two yards away from the sidewalk. Her reasoning was that people wouldn't want to walk past the pictures.

The first officer then tried to stop me from handing a flyer to a woman who had criticized our display as she walked by. "Quit harassing her!" he barked. Freedom of speech clearly includes distributing flyers on the sidewalk, but I soon realized that attempting to defend my rights was only going to lead to more trouble, so I moved off down the block.

Dad had a more pleasant experience at this site, holding a sign in the shade and being interviewed by Pavel Chichikov of the Catholic Exchange.

We returned to Annunciation Church for a luncheon featuring former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Margaret Heckler, who encouraged our efforts and spoke on the central importance of the pro-life movement in the U.S. and throughout the world. I introduced Dad with some reflections on growing up in the pro-life movement. He spoke on the significance of the NOW v. Scheidler victory, and the value of street-level activism.

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Holocausts New and Old

The final site of the day was the Holocaust Museum near the National Mall, appropriately chosen by Jack to expose America's holocaust, abortion. Guards at the museum tried to keep us off their block, but when Dad offered to contact a D.C. attorney he had just met at lunch, they immediately backed down.

Holocaust Site

Maryland tour site at the Holocaust Museum [Photo by EJS]

While some of us had harbored reservations about the choice of the Holocaust Museum site, we quickly changed our minds as we gauged the reaction of museum goers and other passers-by. Two young girls gaped at the signs and asked, "Hitler did that to babies?" apparently thinking we were part of a museum display. "No, that's what the U.S. Supreme Court allows Americans to do to babies," Dad explained.

We reluctantly left this effective tour site to be driven back to BWI by Sr. Nancy Hanson, who graced the Maryland Face the Truth tour wearing the full habit of the Franciscan order.

League's History with MD Tour

The League had joined the Maryland tour in 2002, and in 2001 helped conduct Defend Life's first tour. One of the participants in the 2001 tour was Bob Newman of Pittsburg, who was inspired by his experience to return to Pennsylvania and start conducting Truth tours all over the state. Bob sent a van-full of signs to this year's Maryland tour.

Face the Truth has become a national campaign, as groups around the country inspire each other and join forces to bring the tour to more and more cities each year. If Face the Truth hasn't visited your area yet, call the League for a copy of our free Face the Truth video and how-to booklet.

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