With a death toll of somewhere around 2 million American lives lost in wars, we mourn the lives cut short and honor those who gave the ultimate gift for the freedom of our country. We celebrate their homecoming if there is one, and if there is not we surround their families with love and honor the memory of a life lived for others. We list their names on memorials and remember them in our prayers.
But it’s a completely different story with abortion.
With a toll of over 55 million abortions since 1973, the number of children lost to abortion is astronomically higher than the lives lost in war. That’s not to say that the millions of lives lost in war are insignificant. Both numbers are staggering. But shouldn’t we be honoring all innocent lives lost in our country? Instead of just being a number, children lost to abortion should be remembered as the people they were.
That’s just what Charlotte Ostermann set out to do with her project 50 Million Names.
The 50 Million Names project was born after Charlotte discovered the healing power of giving her own son Timothy (who died before birth) a name. Now she’s launched a campaign to share the dignity, healing power, and blessing of giving all the children lost to abortion a name. All it takes is to sign up on their website, and hit “name a baby“. Then they ask for a first and middle name, and some sort of action on your part to memorialize this person. Charlotte has all sorts of ideas for what these gestures could be:
- Plant a tree, plant a flower box for this child
- Celebrate the Feast Day for a child named after a saint….invite friends
- Blog about the project and tell the story of the names I gave to babies
- Memorize 3 scriptures that speak of the value of children
- Give up my pillow for one night
- Attend the Bishop’s monthly pro-life Mass
- Pray one hour in front of an abortion clinic, or make a First Friday holy hour
- Give a flock of chickens, a goat, or a calf to a needy family through Heifer International
- Host a dinner and tell your guests about the 50 Million Names project
- Embroider the name on a baby hat or blanket and donate to the neonatal intensive care unit
- Paint the name on a poster to hold up at March for Life
- Pray a rosary, novena, or other particular prayer for this child
- Send flowers in honor of this child to a women’s shelter, or to the person whose name you give to a child
- Make a pilgrimage to a site related to the child’s name
- Help clean up a cemetery, pray there for the people buried there, look for names to honor by giving them to babies at 50 Million Names
- Decorate a special, keepsake Christmas ornament and add the child’s name
- Serve at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or other ministry one hour, or one day, in this child’s honor
- Release helium balloons bearing the names you have given in a private ceremony of prayer and promise
- Ask for a Mass to be said in honor of this child
- Create a prayer card to enclose with letters, asking a friend to join you in honoring each child
- Write and share a poem, or song
The possibilities are endless, and just think: the simple action of giving these children a name and honoring them in some way shows the world just how much we believe in the humanity of each human person. You can do one of the things listed, or come up with your own!
On my college campus we had a pro-life movie night and before it each named a baby, said a rosary for them, and wrote them a letter telling them how much they are loved. We put the letters together in a binder that is now available for anyone to look at in our student center. It’s quite a witness to the beauty of these children’s lives.
These babies don’t have a long wall memorializing each one of them by name, but they have you – someone who believes they were a unique an unrepeatable person. Help honor each one of them by visiting 50 Million Names and giving the babies we’ve lost the dignity of a name.