Memorial of the Innocent: Planting Flags for the Unborn Is Personal for These HCU Students

Memorial of the Innocent: Planting Flags for the Unborn Is Personal for These HCU Students
HCU students set up the Memorial of the Innocent at Holcombe mall on April 1, 2024.

Many people would have told Hailey Brown’s mother that she would be better off aborting her. She wasn’t married, and all four of her children ended up in foster care.

Brown, who is familiar with pro-choice versus pro-life debates, says she often hears pro-choice advocates saying things like, “If they’re put in the foster care system, they’re going to have a horrible life. You should abort.”

But eventually, Brown’s grandmother and grandfather took her and her siblings in and became their legal guardians. Today, she’s a junior legal studies major at Houston Christian University.

On Monday, April 1, Brown and a dozen other HCU students were planting red and white flags in the grass at Holcombe Mall to memorialize the estimated 1,026,690 babies who were aborted in America in 2023.

They call the event the Memorial of the Innocent. For Brown and other students with the Pro-Life Huskies, it’s personal.

Michael Tulenko said his mother, as a teenager, was pressured to abort his older sister. His mother chose life, and now his sister is one of his two best friends. “Knowing that there’s a possibility of not having my sister is kind of what pushes me.”

Chapel Neese, a freshman, and her brother Caden Neese, a sophomore studying electrical engineering, said that their two-year old brother motivates them.

“I watched my mom carry him, and I saw ultrasounds of him in the womb,” said Chapel. “Even seeing him now as a toddler…life is just so precious and every child’s life should be protected.”

Autumn Harvey, a junior sporting curly black hair and a green t-shirt decorated with the slang term “mood,” said she loves children because her little brother is a “miracle baby.”

Of course, the students have moral and religious reasons too. Chapel said, “I believe that because God created humans in his image, all life is valuable.”

Harvey said she wants to “advocate” for children because “a child can’t always speak for themselves.”

Sophie Davis, a freshman Great Texts major who took the role of emcee for the evening, was more blunt. “Abortion is killing innocent babies and it’s terrible,” said the redhead as Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” blasted from her handheld speaker. “It’s a very biblical cause as well—‘Thou shalt not murder.’”

Not everyone was convinced. Jaden Jeffers and Daniel Smith weren’t pro-life, but they stopped by to help a friend plant flags. “I’m kind of undecided for right now. I haven’t done my own research,” said Jeffers, who’s been discussing the issue with other HCU nursing students. He thought that the pro-life side made good points about life beginning at conception, but that the pro-choice side made good points about situations involving rape or an unready mother.

Hailey Brown used to be more like Jeffers and Smith. In high school, she didn't know what abortion was. When she heard that some students would do it, she thought, “If they have a one-night stand, if they take the pill, it doesn’t count, right? Nothing’s happened.”

But eventually, she stumbled across the Instagram influencer @klassy_in_pink, who “showcased the horrors of abortion and how people put glitter on it.” Then she saw videos of what happens in an abortion. “That just really hurt my heart and soul.”

Now she’s president of the Pro-Life Huskies. The campus organization offers annual Pregnant & Parenting Grants of up to $1000 to HCU students who are pregnant or parenting and need financial help.

PLH also sets up the Memorial of the Innocent every year. This time, the white flags symbolized chemical abortions, which made up approximately 63% percent of all abortions in 2023. Since they can be performed at home using mailed drugs, chemical abortions still happen in states like Texas, where abortion was banned after the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

PLH also set up signs with abortion facts. The next day, on top of those signs, someone else had taped handwritten posters with slogans like “Are you a doctor? Then why are you trying to make medical decisions?” Even on an officially pro-life campus, many students are pro-choice or undecided, which is one reason PLH exists.

This year, the flags are set up in the shape of a cross to symbolize “how God died for everyone, including the preborn,” wrote Hailey in an email. “They didn’t get to have a burial, so we have the cross to memorialize their lives.”

Correction: Hailey Brown didn't personally know students who had abortions in high school, but she heard that it was an option some students would choose. The cover image was changed at the request of a student.

Last year, the Sharpener investigated options for women facing crisis pregnancies in the Sharpstown area. Read more below.

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Conflict of Interest Statement: Tyess Korsmo is an HCU alumnus and has taught English and history there.