Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I commend Navy Secretary Ray Maybus for deciding to name a Navy cargo ship after the California farmworker leader, Cesar Chavez.

No previous Navy cargo ship has ever been named to honor a Hispanic. This tribute is far overdue.

Cesar Chavez served in the Navy from 1946 to 1948. He had two cousins who were killed fighting in World War II. Chavez was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom in 1994.

It is ironic that Cesar would never have wanted any type of personal honor. His entire life was spent in that selfless service of others, especially poor farmworkers who had no voice, no power, nor ability to improve their lot.

Chavez made the plight of farmworkers, many undocumented men and women, a cause of national concern and embarrassment. His non-violent approach to organizing farmworkers in a real sense has never ceased. Because of the selfless work of farmworkers, we Americans pay only 6% of our annual incomes on food. That stands in stark contrast to almost every other country in the world where food takes a very large percentage of their incomes.

The USNS Cesar Chavez has a nice ring to it, and I look forward to its launching.