California bishops laud Obama's dedication of national monument to Cesar Chavez
Chavez, who co-founded the United Farm Workers union in 1962, "strived to be a good disciple of the Lord Jesus by bringing the kingdom of God to the vineyards, fields and groves of America," they said in a statement released Oct. 3. President Obama led the dedication on Oct. 8.
"Seeing the hard plight of migrant laborers, he became a community organizer in 1952, and eventually the founder of the United Farm Workers in 1962," added the bishops. "Through his influence and dedication, countless farm laborers today have basic protections -- from clean drinking water and safe working conditions to minimum wages and access to health care."
President Obama toured the Chavez Memorial Garden and placed a red rose at the gravesite where Cesar Chavez was laid to rest in 1993. Obama issued a presidential proclamation establishing what is now known as the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, to be maintained by the National Park Service. The property is known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, Spanish for Our Lady Queen of Peace. In the UFW, it was known simply as La Paz.
"At La Paz, the UFW grew and expanded from its early roots as a union for farmworkers to become a national voice for the poor and disenfranchised," Obama said in the proclamation. "For Cesar Chavez, La Paz also provided the respite he needed to continue serving the farmworker movement. His attachment to La Paz as both a refuge and a place where he engaged in his life's work grew stronger over the years."
La Paz now "joins a long list of national monuments stretching from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon," the president said. "It's a story of people, of determined, fearless, hopeful people," like Chavez, he added, "who have always been willing to devote their lives to making this country a little more just, a little more free."