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The Kielkucki family traverses the route for the 47th annual March for Life: from left, Joe, Sarah, Marcel and Gabi.

For Marcel and Sarah Kielkucki and their children, Gabi and Joe, going to Washington, D.C., for the 47th annual March for Life event,Jan. 22-24, provided their family plenty of memories.

It gave Gabi a second chance at participating in the march after a bout with the flu confined her to her hotel room when she was on the trip two years ago.

It also gave the family a first-hand look at how government works.

Marcel Kielkucki is principal at Beckman Catholic, where Gabi is a sophomore and Joe is an eighth grader.

The family bused out to D.C. with the Dubuque County Right to Life organization.

“The trip is normally made available to eighth graders, as a sort of capstone event,” Marcel explained. “We had talked that since Gabi was sick two years ago, that when Joe’s trip came up, it would be a good thing for us to go as a family,” Marcel explained.

Marcel said the trip was an example of how the United States is designed to work.

“When I put my educator hat on, you get to see an encapsulation of our government,” he explained. “We start by going to Mass, so we are able to see freedom of religion. Then with the march, Friday transitions into freedom of expression and freedom to peaceably assemble. That’s what we are doing. We are trying to tell our government these things are important to us and we’d like to see policy reflect that.”

Sarah called the march impressive. “When you are marching and you turn around, all you can see are people behind you for as far as you can see.” She said the magnitude of the crowd send a powerful message of solidarity.

“Sometimes when you are back home, you feel no one really wants to talk about the pro-life movement. But then at the march, you feel like you are part of something that is huge.”

She continued, “Seeing so many young people participating was inspiring. They aren’t just there to get out of school. They care and know why they are there.”

Gabi said she enjoyed seeing President Donald Trump speak at the event. “We saw history made. He became the first president to speak at the National March for Life.”

“I was impressed with all the people who attended,” Joe added.

Later that evening, the group visited the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, as well as the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. The next day the group stopped at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Seeing those memorials reminded us of where are rights come from,” Marcel said. “We see the founding fathers who worked to provide those liberties, then we remembered those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can do the things we do.”

Sarah said the sight of hundreds of thousands of marchers is an important message for her children. “I want them to understand the pro-life movement isn’t just our family or just a school thing. Hundreds of thousands of people care about the same things we care about. I wanted them to see that.”

Marcel said the march also sends the message that being involved in the workings of government is important. “If people don’t have a basic understanding of the processes of government, then those who show up make those decisions. If you don’t contact legislators, if you don’t vote, if you aren’t there and part of the process, then your voice isn’t heard.”