JATC Apprentice Speaks before Thousands in DC

Published on January 14, 2011

On September 29, 2010, I was contacted by Helmets to Hard Hats, which is an organization that helps those who have served in the military transition into careers within the construction industry. They were looking for a representative to speak at the One Nation Rally which would be held on October 2, 2010. I was advised that it would be held on the National Mall and that there would be quite a few people in attendance. I agreed to take on the role as the representative and was made aware that someone from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) would contact me with the logistics. At that moment, I realized that this was a pretty big deal being that the AFL-CIO was involved.

I was called by a member of the AFL-CIO’s staff who relayed to me that a speech writer would contact me. When October 2nd came, I was slightly nervous but I guess anyone would be. I made my way to the AFL-CIO Headquarters where I met with other people who were chosen to represent their professions. Most of them were very accomplished in their careers and here I am a 3rd year apprentice amongst some pretty heavy hitters. We made our way to the Lincoln Memorial where we were to speak. I saw the crowd start to grow. I thought to myself this could be a pretty large gathering which was the understatement of the year. By the time we took the podium located on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I looked out onto the crowd which had grown in size and reached all the way past the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument.

Eventually it was my turn to speak. I stepped up to the podium and spoke about the fact that I was a union electrician and a veteran. I expressed my concerns in that I wanted to see our nation invest and improve our country’s infrastructure such as buildings, roadways, and bridges.  I also mentioned that we needed to incorporate green technologies in the process of this endeavor.

I say in all sincerity that it was an honor to represent both my brothers and sisters that have served in our armed services and my union brothers and sisters as well.  There was a lot of discussion of what this rally was for and what it was countering throughout the media. I did not get that feeling that it was a counter rally at all. There were many people there for different reasons, but when it came down to it, the rally was really about Americans coming together to exercise their first amendment right. The goal was to hopefully instigate a change in the amount of effort and capital put towards the creation of good jobs for Americans. This group consisted of people that are in the trenches everyday making this country function from the nurse that is taking care of our family members in the hospital, to the teacher that educates our children, to the electrician that ensures that there is light to make it happen.

Once again I would like to thank the JATC and Helmets to Hard Hats for giving me this opportunity.