Students walking through South Quad Thursday were met with more than just the usual diagonal paths and fields of grass. Instead, passersby witnessed a display of hundreds of small white crosses as well as thousands of pink and blue flags throughout the Quad.
Notre Dame Right to Life (NDRTL), a pro-life student organization, set up the display as a “visual means of keeping perspective of the scale of abortion in the United States,” senior John Gerardi, president of NDRTL, said.
The display is called the Cemetery of Innocents and will be exhibited today as well.
Gerardi said the some 500 planted crosses represent the number of abortions in the United States during a three-hour period, roughly the duration of one college football game.
The flags, he said, which amount to about 4,000, represent the number of daily abortions in the United States. The pink and blue flags represent aborted females and males, respectively, he said.
Although the exhibit may be shocking, Gerardi said he believes it is significant in reminding people of the impact of abortion nationwide.
“We don’t even stop to consider those lives,” he said.
Although the Cemetery has been exhibited for many years, it continues to have an impact on the community, former NDRTL president and current vice president Mary Kate Daly said.
“I myself am affected each year it goes up,” Daly, a senior, said.
She said she has been involved with NDRTL since her freshman year.
Gerardi and Daly said the display is controversial in the Notre Dame community each year.
“People say it’s weird or morbid,” Gerardi said.
“Some people feel it may alienate those whom abortion has affected,” Daly said. “It does affect people, but we try to recognize the women affected by abortion as well. We sympathize with their concerns.”
Daly said the display has also undergone vandalism such as defacement in recent years.
“Usually though people are pretty civil,” she said. “It’s a University approved display.”
The Cemetery of Innocents display is a part of Respect Life week, an effort to call attention to the discussion of abortion and its impact on the national community.
Along with the display, Daly said, Theology Professor Adrian Reimers will give a lecture today about the theology of the family and sexual relations.
A Respect Life Mass will take place in the Basilica Saturday.