Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Among those traveling to Washington, D.C. to attend the "Hands Off My Healthcare" rally hosted by Americans for Prosperity, was a bus traveling from Carbon County. From left are Marlene Greenwood, Palmerton; Louise and Pat Centofanti of Jim Thorpe; Pat and Frank Letterio of Lehighton; and Beverly and Harry Schulz of Zionville.
Americans from throughout the country gathered yesterday in the Upper Senate Park in Washington D.C. as Americans for Prosperity hosted a "Hands Off My Health Care" rally to protest the national health care bill.
Among the 4,000 who attended was a busload of 35 people from Carbon County, many of whom are members of the Lehighton 9/12 Project.
In all, there were 16 busloads of people from Pennsylvania at the rally. The buses were sponsored by AFP.
Sandy Dellicker, president of the Lehighton 9/12 Project, organized the local group's participation at the event.
Dellicker said that the 9/12 Project formed shortly after 9-11. She said she was pleased with the turnout by the local people.
"During 9-11 we were one as a nation," she said. "There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. Since then, we have lost that closeness. That is how and why we formed."
"The rally wasn't only about health care, but it was about our freedoms. It was a peaceful way to demonstrate our rights that are slowly being taken away from us," said Beverly Shulz of Zionville.
The crowd in Washington, D.C. was very orderly and organized, while the message from the speakers resonated to the audience. They want the government to stay out of their health care and to give Americans more say in what happens to their bodies. They are also concerned about the national debt and the issue of each American's personal privacy.
Many people in the group carried signs or flags while others wore the red T-shirts that were given out by the Americans for Prosperity group.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Minnesota, was the final speaker. She encouraged the crowd at several times to chant along with her.
Bachmann encouraged the group to be loud enough for the Supreme Court to hear their voices. The court is currently considering the constitutionality of ObamaCare.
"We're here not only to talk about national health care, but to talk about our freedom in America," said Bachmann. "We're fighting tyranny and we want to see the end of socialized medicine. Judges must decide that our privacy still means something."
Bachmann said that the United States was "the brokest nation in history" with the largest debt we have ever seen.
"We want the government to unplug the printing press," said Bachmann. "We want our currency to mean something."
Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Florida all had large contingents at the rally, which was held under sunny skies and with a temperature in the low 60s.
In addition to Bachmann, speakers included Congressman Paul Ryan, Congressman Allen West, Senator Jim DeMint and more
"Today thousands of Americans gathered with a simple but crystal clear message for the United States Supreme Court: do the right thing for our nation and overturn this disastrous, unconstitutional government takeover of our health care," said AFP President Tim Phillips.
"We know there is a fundamental constitutional principle at stake. We know that government should not, and must not, force every America citizen to purchase a product as defined by politicians in Washington, D.C."
Phillips served as master of ceremonies during the nearly two-hour event. He encouraged the crowd to repeat, "Hands Off My Healthcare," which was the theme of the rally.
Congressman Ryan, from Wisconsin, welcomed the group from his state who drove throughout the night to attend the rally.
"We know the Supreme Court is going to repeal ObamaCare. We also need to reject the bill this November. It is time to take back this country," he said.
"Paul Ryan was exceptional," said Pat Centofanti of Jim Thorpe. "I wonder if people realize the effects when they vote for politicians. More people should do it."
Sen. Ron Johnson, also from Wisconsin, said, "This is a pivotal moment in America. That is the reason I ran."
Johnson shared with the crowd a personal story of his infant daughter's health treatment at 8 months old. He said that his daughter is alive today because of the health care she received.
"Today, she is 28 years old and while the blood in her heart runs backward, she is fine. She is a neonatal nurse helping other babies. We need the freedom to seek the health care we need," said Johnson.
Rep. Scott Garrett, New Jersey, said, "We can't allow our freedom to be taken away." Garrett said that last Friday was the two-year anniversary of the national health care bill.
Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center, said that when the national health care bill was introduced, there was supposed to be a savings of $2,500, but it has turned out instead to cost Americans $2,200 and that the costs to pay more have just started.
Congressman West, from Florida, also welcomed constituents from his home state.
"This rally is not only about health care, but about freedom and democracy," said West. "Healthcare is not in concert with the rights of Americans. We need to send Obama back to Illinois."
Sen. DeMint of South Carolina, said, "They said you would go away. They said that in a few years you would like the national health care bill. But that hasn't happened."
DeMint said that it is time to "Throw the whole bill. You can't fix it. The bill has to go. That is why you are here."
Sen. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania, said that he was ready to face the challenge to preserve liberty.
"We have to stand up for our freedom. We have the constitution and we have this fight," he said.
The next Lehighton 9-12 Project meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12 at Roadies Restaurant at Penn's Peak. See the website at www.lehighton9/12.org.