Being the youngest member of the Missouri Life Caravan at age 10 brings certain advantages, Meghan Meehan learned.
For starters, lots of people wanted to take her picture. U.S. Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri high-fived her. Fellow Missourian and Republican Congressman Billy Long gave her one of his official medallions. And she got a free T-shirt.
She responded with a quiet smile and by handing out prayer cards from her parish, St. Dominic Savio in Affton, Missouri.
Pretty nice way to end a nearly sleepless 22-hour bus ride from her home outside St. Louis with mother Jennifer to the March for Life on the National Mall.
Missouri Right to Life paid for the Meehans' trip after a member saw an article in the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the St. Louis Archdiocese, about Meghan's pro-life club for children in fifth through eighth grades.
Before the march, about 1,500 caravan riders stopped by a conference room at the Dirksen Senate Office Building to hear encouraging words from Republican members of the state's congressional delegation.
"Every life is sacred, every life matters, and what you're doing here today matters, as it matters to us," said U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.
After the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, "we began to devalue life, we began to devalue our culture, and from that, we began to devalue our country," said Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer. "Quite frankly, I think I think we're winning the battle. But how do we get our message out? Each church has to be willing to stand up and push back."
Long said he was a high school senior in 1973 when the Supreme Court decision came down. At the time, he said, he didn't know what abortion was until someone explained it to him. "I couldn't understand it. You mean they kill a living human being? Yes, that's what they do. We don't ever need to apologize for protecting the innocent unborn."
Although all the politicians were Republicans, the meeting had a nonpartisan cast until Connie Eller, president of Missouri Blacks for Life, announced that she understood that first lady Michelle Obama may eventually run for president. The crowd let out a collective groan.