Cesar Chavez Gets Navy Funeral, 22 Years after His Death

AP Photo/Richard Drew
AP Photo/Richard Drew

On Thursday, Cesar Chavez, the late Latino activist labor leader, was honored by the U.S. Navy on the 22nd anniversary of his death.

The Cesar Chaves Foundation reported that the Navy’s actions were triggered by a request from a Navy sailor, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Marco Valdovinos, who discovered Chavez was not honored for his service when he died in 1993. During the ceremony, “Taps,” was played by a Navy bugler, a rifle salute was fired, and a U.S. flag was presented to Chavez’s widow, Helen.

The Navy has certainly not ignored Chavez; in 2012 it launched the USNS Cesar Chavez, a cargo ship. According to the , that ship is the only U.S. military ship named after a Latino.

The Foundation stated, “Cesar endured discrimination in the Navy and at home during the ’40s. Cesar belonged to a generation of Latinos and other people of color who returned home from the service after 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.”

Despite the adulation heaped on Chavez by members of the Left, including Barack Obama, who proclaimed “Cesar Chavez Day” on March 31, 2012, there is another side to the story. As Steve Baldwin, a former California state assemblyman, wrote of Chavez in 2014, “When I served in the California Legislature there was a 1995 bill to create a Cesar Chavez State Holiday but the only lobbying I received were from anti-Chavez farm workers. One group gave me a petition signed by 400 Latino farm laborers who were urging a ‘no’ vote. I also talked to people who led non-UFW farm worker associations who hotly disputed the notion that Chavez or the UFW ever represented their views and challenged much of the Chavez mythology.”