At Upper Senate Park on the grounds of the US Capitol yesterday, on ahot, humid DC summer day, 10,000 people from across the country ralliedfor healthcare reform with a real public option.
They flew in from as far as Washington state, Montana, New Mexico andNebraska; bussed in from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York andNew Jersey; and made the trip from Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee,Missouri and Illinois.
It was a vibrant crowd, showing the colors of unions that turned out inforce: CWA red, UFCW yellow, AFSCME green, SEIU purple, LiUNA orange,IBEW lime, and SIU blue.
They were there not only to rally but to lobby. They understood theurgency with nearly 50 million people uninsured and millions moreunderinsured and an illness away from bankruptcy. They understood theopposition as the industry lobbyists fight tooth and nail to protecttheir profits. And they understood the need for citizens to make thecase for real reform each and every day until we win.
Maddie, a resident caregiver for children with developmentaldisabilities in Vineland, NJ, made the bus trip down with AFSCME Local2215.
“We have a lot of people — even in the bus that we brought down today– they have children that are sick. One lady has a daughter who has arare disease — she doesn’t have any healthcare,” she said. “It’s moreimportant than getting a raise, or making extra money. We fight healthissues every day of our life… The private companies aren’t necessarilygonna give us that healthcare, the public option makes sure it’s forall. I just hope my brothers and sisters make a statement today and dowhat we came here to do — convince Congress.”
Ronald, a splicer for Verizon, came from Wilmington, Delaware with CWAlocal 13100.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Everybody needs to rallytogether and get this,” he said. “We’re in America — strongest nationin the world. We shouldn’t be going through this — with all thesepeople not being able to take care of their family members …. We votethese guys in to do a job — not to leave their state, come down here toDC, and then all of a sudden they flip the script, they have their ownagendas.”
Congressman Charles Rangel told the crowd that their efforts werehistoric, drawing a parallel to the March on Washington.
“Civil rights without the right to health — you can’t use it much,” hesaid. “Remember this day the same way we remember the day that wemarched down here with Dr. Martin Luther King. No one knew howimportant that march was….One day you’ll tell your kids and yourgrandkids that have healthcare, ‘Enjoy that, but don’t take it forgranted because [I] came to Washington on a hot, June day’….”