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story.lead_photo.caption Students, teachers and chaperones participate Friday in the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Several groups from the Jefferson City area traveled to the East Coast to participate in Friday's National March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Among them was a group from Calvary Lutheran High School.

Sydney Duenckel, a 17-year-old senior, said the scene was surreal.

"Thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of people were all here for the same reason," Duenckel said. "Even though we're not from the same denominations, we all stand for the same thing — abortion is wrong."

Another student, Jared Braun, a 17-year-old junior, agreed with Duenckel.

"I really wanted to come out here and show my support for what I believe. I wanted to see all the love and compassion and support that surrounds a community," he said. And he added, "To see all the people show that was amazing."

Duenckel appreciated people had opposing points of view, she added.

"It was interesting to see counter-protesters," Duenckel said. "To understand your side, you really need to understand their side, too."

Nearly 300 parishioners from within the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City participated in Friday's National March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight held a Mass for the 290 pilgrims before they climbed in buses Wednesday morning and began their travel to Washington for the National Mass and Prayer Vigil for Life.

The travelers represent 19 parishes within the diocese.

The Mass was one of the first tasks McKnight took up upon returning from a three-month pilgrimage to India and Rome.

While in Rome, McKnight and 14 other bishops from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska sat down with Pope Francis to discuss pressing topics.

The pope agreed with the bishops that abortion is the "preeminent issue of our time."

The march is an annual rally protesting the act and the legality of abortion. It is held every year on or about the anniversary (Jan. 22, 1973) of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion.

This year, for the first time, a sitting president participated in the march. President Donald Trump spoke at the event, telling listeners unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was traveling Friday in Italy, also appeared via video recorded at the Vatican following a meeting with Pope Francis.

Many of the travelers will begin their return trips to Missouri today.

The group from Calvary, however, will spend today and the first half of Sunday touring the sites. Then, they'll fly home.

"I think D.C. is a cool city," Duenckel said. "Being able to see the history — it was interesting."

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