News travels fast on Facebook.
I had just logged in when I saw the post in my newsfeed: an elementary school classmate of mine had passed away. I had not seen him in years, but, on spotting his name, his 10-year-old face flashed in my brain and I was once again transported to Mrs. Knapp’s fifth grade classroom.
A certain, special sadness washes over me when I learn that a student I had shared class time with has passed from this life. Those who soar into our lives during the childhood and adolescent years, who spend six hours a day with us five days a week for nine months each year, know us in a way that few others do.
They knew us before career and kids, before diplomas and diaper duty. They knew us when we were free from adult responsibilities, when we were learning not only about the world, but about ourselves.
At times, they may have been a tough crowd to impress, but they could also be among the most steadfast of friends. They knew you and befriended you even though you couldn’t tie your own shoes in first grade or despite the fact that you were always chosen last for the teams in gym class. They accepted your limitations and found something worthwhile within you nevertheless—maybe because you were willing to do puzzles with them during rainy day recesses or because you were the first to arrive at their birthday parties.
And perhaps there is the comradeship that grows out of gamely toughing it out together through spelling bees and scouting meetings, afternoon science class and after-school guitar lessons. We were witnesses to each other’s lives when our lives were really just starting.
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Our class yearbooks might be quite dusty now, but they hold within them wonderful stories. Each individual portrait represents a life—a life that might have had its share of heartbreak, but a life worth defending until its natural end.
Since 1973 and the tragic Roe v. Wade ruling, more than 59 million lives have been lost—lives every bit as dignified and worthy of respect as our own. Each abortion represents an unjust, premature ending to a child who never had the chance to learn to tie her own shoe.
So many names missing from yearbooks. So many obituaries missing from our hometown newspapers after productive lives lived. So many friendships never made.
So many faces that were never shared on Facebook.
These losses are the MIAs of our time—not Missing in Action, but Missing, Indicative of Abortion.
Our homes, our communities, our nation, and most of all the families of these MIAs are impoverished by their loss.