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Original March for Life banner in councilman's possession

Front Royal attorney Tom Sayre displays one of the original banners that was used in the first March for Life Rally held on Jan. 25, 1974 in Washington, D.C. The annual march will be held this Friday. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Kim Walter

While Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling, a local town councilman holds a memento representing a different anniversary.

Front Royal Town Council member Thomas Sayre is in possession of one of the banners used in the original March for Life, which took place on Jan. 22, 1974. In fact, the framed banner led the march 39 years ago.

The first march was held on the west steps of the Capitol, and brought out around 20,000 pro-life Americans.

On the back of the flag's frame, there is a message certifying it's validity.

"Over the years, the banner became tattered and torn," Sayre said Tuesday.

He said the Virginia Knights of Columbus, at their recent semi-annual meeting, had the flag on display. Sayre asked to borrow it, and he will be able to hold onto it for four or five months.

Sayre, who frequents the march for life year after year, plans to take the old banner to the upcoming march on Friday, Jan. 25.

"I think people would like to see it," he said. "It's very recognizable."

"This flag represents a lot of prayers, hopes and dreams that people have had for the last 40 years," he said. "After 40 years of legalized abortion, hopefully there will be a wake-up call so that our country realizes we can't keep doing this to our [children]."

According to the March for Life website, approximately 55 million "unique lives have been lost" over the past 40 years. Sayre said the country has an obligation to them -- "the smallest, weakest and most unwanted."

Sayre said there is some uplifting data, which suggests the pro-life movement has had an impact on decreasing the number of abortions.

"Around 90 percent of women who are contemplating an abortion and see an ultrasound of their baby and hear the baby's heartbeat choose to carry the baby to full term," he said. The Knights of Columbus has done a number of fundraisers to help get ultrasound equipment in more crisis pregnancy centers, he added.

Sayre said he's also heard from the pro-choice "side" that they recognize the number of young people who support the pro-life agenda.

"We've got the youth and energy, and we've got the truth on our side," he said.

Students at Christendom College in Front Royal make the trip to Washington, D.C., every year for the March for Life. Last year, the student body led the march for the third time.

"They realize that they are the future, and they'll be carrying this movement forward," Sayre said of the younger pro-life generation.

The march will begin at noon Friday. Marchers are always encouraged to not engage with "disruptive actions," Sayre said.

"It's always a very peaceful day," he said.

Sayre said he is looking forward to taking the original banner with him, as many locals have asked him to do just that. He said he hopes it will remind marchers how far they've come and to "not give up on the issue."

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


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