Many, many thousands of people have clustered on the Mall for the 36th Annual March for Life. If you’re putting on a demonstration, you, of course, must have a theme. In this department, the March for Life, well, it could use a wordsmith or two. Here it is, taken straight from the March’s Web site: “Remember—-the Life Principles mean “Equal Care” with No Exceptions!” The site goes on to explain that the theme means simply that equal care must be provided to the pregnant mother and to her “preborn child.”

OK, so that’s straightened out.

Whatever the abstruse theme, the marchers at the March for Life are carrying on with messages and props that go way back. Take Chris Harmon, who hails from the rugged coal- and French-and-Indian-War-country of western Maryland—the Cumberland area, to be more precise.

Harmon has brought along a 15-foot white pole with a cluster of red balloons at the end. Symbolism, please? “It’s just the martyrs—the babies and the martyrs,” says Harmon. This is the same prop that Harmon has been bringing to this event for the past 20 years. And the effect isn’t merely symbolic. “It also looks really great on EWTN,” says Harmon, referring to the Eternal World Television Network, the Global Catholic Network.

Reporting by Amanda Hess, writing by Erik Wemple