It was 1913 when the U.S. Navy began issuing t-shirts to sailors to wear under their uniforms. Seven years later, in his novel This Side of Paradise, the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald first used the term “t-shirt” in print, according to RealThread.com.
Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey’s 1948 campaign created one of the first-ever slogan t-shirts with the saying “Do it With Dewey.”
By the 1970s, rock bands began emblazoning t-shirts with their logos, fueling a trend that has never gone out of fashion.
So it’s fitting that National Pro-Life T-Shirt day was originally a project of Rock for Life, an organization I co-founded in 1993 when I married my two passions – Christian punk music and pro-life – to start a series of concerts to raise awareness of the abortion issue among young music fans. Pro-life t-shirts were a natural byproduct of that union.
Although it would be years later that I joined forces with Father Frank Pavone – and became part of the Pastoral Team at Priests for Life – I first met him in 1995 at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. I was actually holding a pro-abortion sign as I stood in front of the Holocaust museum but when I saw Father Frank walking by, I pulled him aside to tell him I was really pro-life and showed him the pro-life t-shirt I was wearing underneath another shirt. Two of my friends and I had infiltrated a group of pro-abortion activists who were in the nation’s capital to oppose the pro-life movement.
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A few years later I moved Rock for Life from Portland, Oregon, where co-founder Erik Whittington and I were living, to Virginia to join the team at American Life League (ALL). One afternoon I was standing on a balcony at the ALL offices talking to co-founder Paul Brown about wanting to make more pro-life t-shirts when the idea for a National Pro-life T-shirt Day struck me. I envisioned setting aside one day a year to encourage every pro-life American to become a walking billboard for life.
I left Rock for Life in 2003 and started a new project, Stand True Pro-life Outreach, which further expanded my pro-life work from just music to all of youth culture. Stand True also had a hugely successful line of pro-life t-shirts that have been worn by bands like P.O.D, Casting Crowns and even by Gary Cherone, former lead singer of Van Halen and Extreme.
Several years ago, after I had come home to the Catholic Church, I called Priests for Life Executive Director Janet Morana and pitched the idea of Stand True joining the ministry as its youth outreach. For years, my Stand True team and I had worked closely with Priests for Life so it was a perfect fit. That’s how I came to be a member of the Pastoral Team of Priests for Life.
ALL kept National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day as one of its projects but this year they have given it back to me and on April 27 Priests for Life will launch a brand new shirt featuring a silhouette of the Statue of Liberty and the message “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for All Humans Born and Unborn.”
The new effort will establish three days each year when pro-lifers around the country will be urged to proclaim their beliefs on a t-shirt. The next day will be Oct. 5, and every year on Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers will be urged to don pro-life shirts.
The leftist media, the entertainment industry and now even the government work hard to silence the pro-life message. One of the ways we can ensure that our message gets out is to wear it on a t-shirt. I wear pro-life t-shirts just about every day and they never fail to start conversations.
To see Priests for Life’s new and existing t-shirt designs, go to ProLifeProducts.org