Local residents gathered at Lincoln Boulevard and Maxella Avenue near Marina del Rey September 2nd as part of Los Angeles area vigils calling for an improved public healthcare system and to pay respects to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a staunch advocate for universal healthcare.

At the street vigil organized by 36th congressional district candidate Marcy Winograd, which coincided with other vigils held by MoveOn.org, participants argued that California cannot afford to wait to have healthcare reform with a real public health insurance option. Winograd is running against incumbent Congresswoman Jane Harman.

The vigils, intended to call attention to the struggles of millions without healthcare, were organized by members of MoveOn.org Political Action, along with the Center for Community Change, Democracy for America, Doctors for America, Health Care for American Now, and TrueMajority. Nearly 350 vigils were said to have been held nationwide on the same day.

“As Americans we want the freedom to choose where we live and work without the fear of losing our healthcare,” Winograd said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have that freedom now. Under an expanded Medicare for All plan, however, we could enjoy both freedom and comfort, knowing that regardless of where we lived or worked we would have quality healthcare for the rest of our lives.”

The events included a candle memorial to Kennedy, who viewed fighting for universal healthcare as the “cause of his life.”

Vigil participants said they lit candles, held pictures and signs, and shared stories of those struggling under the current healthcare system to show the need for a real public health insurance option.