22 Years Later, Cesar Chavez to Get Navy Honors

Time in Navy 'motivated him to work for civil and labor rights,' foundation says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 23, 2015 10:38 AM CDT
22 Years Later, Cesar Chavez to Get Navy Honors
In this file photo taken Tuesday Oct, 2, 2012, is the grave site where the Chicano farmworker leader Cesar Chavez is buried in the memorial garden in Keene, Calif.   (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka, File)

Civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez is going to be honored for a different kind of service. Today, the 22nd anniversary of his death, Chavez will get full graveside honors from the US Navy at his memorial in California. The idea for the ceremony came from a current Navy sailor who learned Chavez did not receive the honors at the time of his death, according to the Cesar Chavez Foundation. The foundation is hosting the ceremony, along with the National Park Service, which operates Chavez's memorial. Current sailors, veterans, and Chavez relatives are expected to attend the formal ceremony that will include a Navy bugler playing "Taps," a rifle salute, and a folding of a US flag that will be presented to Chavez's widow.

Organizers say today's honors are an opportunity to show the public that Chavez, not known for his time in the military, served in the Navy just after World War II, and it helped him become the fighter and organizer he would later be known for. "Cesar endured discrimination in the Navy and at home during the '40s," the foundation said. "Cesar belonged to a generation of Latinos and other people of color who returned home from ... World War II determined to see that the country for which they sacrificed fulfilled its promise of equality and freedom. That motivated him to work for civil and labor rights starting in the early '50s." The ceremony isn't the only Navy honor for Chavez. In 2012 it launched a cargo ship named the USNS Cesar Chavez. (Read more Cesar Chavez stories.)

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