But maybe not the kind that makes the textbooks

In early August, the quiet streets of several Nova Scotian communities were stirred into activity by the presence of modern-day heroes. At least, that’s how I think of them.

The men, women and children who made up the Show the Truth Tour broke out of their ordinary Canadian lives to travel days by bus and stand as living billboards on the streets. When I found out that the tour would be putting on an early morning presentation outside our local abortion hospital in Halifax, I felt compelled to support them with my presence. So I bundled up my one-year-old twin boys and headed off to join them.

As I turned the corner at the hospital, I saw a young girl hurrying to take her place in the line of demonstrators. Her face was a contradiction to the innocence of youth and the burden of wisdom. As soon as she held her photo up a coward hurled an insult from his car. She didn’t flinch.

I couldn’t park fast enough. My heart was already with them as they stood like sentinels of truth on this otherwise ordinary morning. But the photos that they displayed during the presentations were too large for me to carry while pushing my double stroller, so I had to settle for stopping to talk and encourage each one in turn.

It didn’t seem like enough. As I moved along the two columns of demonstrators, I heard the voices of rage that screamed out from passing cars. I began to realize that it takes more than conviction to face such public ridicule. To hold a full colour photo of a dismembered baby takes more courage than most of us can muster.

I listened as they told me stories of restaurants refusing to serve them. Of physical threats and of emotional fatigue. But what hurt the Show the Truth demonstrators the most seemed to be the times when some factions of the pro-life movement joined their voices with those of the abortion-rights groups in condemning the graphic way they chose to show reality.

The demonstrators expected to stand against the enemy’s arrows. But when comrades took arms against them, the strength to go on had to be found in some far deeper place.

As I walked along the strip of grass that divides the road between the hospitals, it became a sacred space. I knew I would never be able to drive past that place again without seeing these people. Without seeing the pictures. Without feeling the need to do more.

The whole thing was over in an hour. As I put my sleepy babies into the van, I watched the Show the Truth team load onto their bus, piling their gruesome photos into cardboard towers of shame. These 20 or so extraordinary people had managed to turn our routine Friday morning into a piece of history. As the bus slowly drove away, I saw the same young girl, her face pressed to the window, a quiet warrior in a long, hard fight.