Home / News Features / “We Rise and Fall as One Nation”
Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008

“We Rise and Fall as One Nation”

Google+ Pinterest Print

I want to point out the connection between the spirit of unity and the spirit that brought about the union movement,” Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama told 15,000 labor supporters in Milwaukee on Monday.

Obama said that he didn’t want to make a political speech at the same time Hurricane Gustav was threatening the Gulf Coast, but that he wanted to make a point about unity on Labor Day.

Obama recounted how, before organized labor unions, many employers had exploited workers by not providing health insurance, fair wages, a safe environment or compensation for on-the-job accidents.

“Then somebody got an idea,” Obama continued. “They said, ‘You know what? Alone we are weak but united we are strong. Because that guy who loses his job today, that might be me tomorrow. That person who gets hurt on the job today, that might be me getting hurt tomorrow. That person without health care, that widow who lost her husband, that might be my family some day. That African American who doesn’t have a job now because of discrimination, maybe I’ll be discriminated against for some other reason. That woman who’s not being paid equally for the job that she’s doing, that might be my daughter some day who’s not being paid equally.’"

So people decided they were going to come together because alone we are weak but united we are strong. That’s the essence of what America is all about. That’s why we’re called the United States of America.

That’s why it’s called the union movement.” But Obama said that while the sense of being “my brother’s keeper, my sister’s keeper” is most evident after a tragedy— whether it’s an on-the-job accident or Hurricane Gustav—it should also be evident when people are coping with their own “quiet storms.”

Obama referred to the closing of the NewPage Corp. paper mill in Kimberly, Wis., as a “quiet storm that’s going on.” He said that while laid-off workers probably don’t like asking for help, all Americans need to lend a hand when a friend or neighbor is in need. “We rise and fall as one nation,” he said.

Photos by Justin Krol (the full video of Obama’s speech is posted on www.expressmilwaukee.com)