Saturday, September 15, 2007

Life at the fair
A guest post by John J. Simmins

[As noted above, this is a guest post; thanks to John J. Simmins for contributing it. — Dawn]

The Charles County Fair is an 83-year-old tradition in Charles County Maryland. It is a traditional county fair, right out of the movies. Charles County is one of three counties that comprise what is known as Southern Maryland and is the cradle of Catholicism in America. It is an old, plantations farming area and until recently the most important crop was tobacco. The queen of the fair is still called “Queen Nicotina”. Even though, Charles County is home to the second largest (unincorporated) city in Maryland, it remains a community with a very rural flavor.

Charles County Right to Life is a chapter of Maryland Right to Life. We have had a presence at the fair for decades. We offer information on abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and abortion alternatives. Maryland is a tough state to have a right to life chapter in. They don’t get more pro-abortion than Maryland. We have more partial birth abortions in Maryland than all our neighbors combined. Throughout the years, we have had some giants in the pro-life movement in Charles County and I am very blessed by knowing them. Working the fair is one of the front lines in the abortion battle in Maryland. We get ALL kinds at the booth. You really feel that you are touching lives at the fair. The fair runs from September 13 through September 16.

The fair is going very well so far. There are two stories stand out from the first night of the fair. On the first night of the fair, I was working the booth with Father Flum, the assistant pastor of St. Peter’s in Waldorf. Father Flum is an awesome man of God and I am blessed to know him. He and Monsignor Parent, the pastor at St. Peter’s, are wonderful spiritual leaders and everyone, especially the children, look up to them as models of what Christian men should be.

Father Flum at the fair

Father Flum and I were passing the time by celebrating someone depositing a $20 bill in the donation jar. Most of our donations are ones or the occasional five dollar bill and it takes a long time to get enough money to pay for the booth and stuff we give away. As we were talking, a gentleman came up, he seemed a regular working class guy. He was there with his wife and teenage daughter. He paused and looked over our literature and then brought out his money clip and discretely pealed of a bill and put it in the donation jar. After he left, I remarked to Father Flum, "Hey, it looks like we got another 20!" Father replies, “John, you should look a little closer.” The man put a $100 bill in the donation jar. I don’t think he was the kind of guy that could easily afford $100. I can only assume that there must be a powerful story behind that donation, maybe only known to him and God.

The other story that sticks out in my mind is when a little girl came up with what I figured were her brothers and sisters. We always have a petition at the booth on various topics that may come up in the state legislature in Annapolis in January. I’m not sure how much good it does. The delegates and senators seem less concerned with what the people want and more concerned with what the unions and developers want, but we try each year. The little girl very carefully filled in all the fields in the petition that we had, writing very slowly as an 11- or 12-year-old would. When she finished, she placed the cap back on the pen and said to me "I'm adopted, so abortion hits really close to home for me." I wanted to hug her.

Our tremendous volunteers at our booth have shared some powerful experiences with me over the last couple of days as well. One story can only be described as a heroic attempt to save the life of a baby that the state of Massachusetts is desperately trying to kill. Next week, my volunteer will be adopting this baby. I won’t go into it here, my friend is a real writer and will be putting the tale to electronic pen soon and I hope to share it with you.

You know sometimes I wonder, particularly in Maryland, if we're doing any good at all. Then I have experiences like these.