Rep. John Lewis Commemorates 77th Anniversary of Social Security
“I remember what it was like before Social Security came into being. For elderly people who had worked hard and already given their best years to this country there was no such thing as a leisurely retirement. They had no pensions, very little savings, and most, as many as 75 percent of the elderly population, did not own their homes.
“If they were lucky, when they were sick they moved into the apartments or farmhouses of their children, who were trying to raise their own families. If they had no children, they went to what we called “the poor house” along with other wards of the state—orphans, widows, the disabled, and the mentally ill. There provisions were meager, often unsanitary and all too frequently cruel.
“Social Security helped lift generations of elderly citizens out of grinding poverty and freed their children to focus their resources on their own families. Social Security is not a government hand-out. It is an insurance program that people contribute into while they are working, so they can receive benefits once they retire. It was once hailed as one of the most effective government programs this nation ever implemented, before trillions were raided from the Social Security trust fund.
“Social Security is a sacred promise we have made to the people of this nation that government must make every effort to honor. There are no problems with Social Security that cannot be fixed. The solutions are well within our reach as a nation. We have the means; all we need is a Congress that has the will.
“In this election year, the people should find out where their candidates stand on this important issue and send members to Congress who will not to sacrifice retirement security of elderly citizens. As for me, I will continue to stand in the gap and fight for the dignity and independence of the elderly in every forum of government I have a chance to address. You can count on that.”