Friday, March 28, 2008

Remembering Cesar Chavez

Senator Robert F. Kennedy called Cesar Chavez “one of the heroic figures of our time."

President Bill Clinton awarded Cesar Chavez the Medal of Freedom posthumously for having "faced formidable, often violent opposition with dignity and nonviolence. And he was victorious. Cesar Chavez left our world better than he found it, and his legacy inspires us still. He was for his own people a Moses figure." Cesar was also awarded Mexico’s highest civilian award, the Aquila Azteca, as a testimony to his lifelong contributions to humanity.

The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative First Class Cesar Chavez postage stamp in 2003, upon the 10th anniversary of his death in 1993.

In California, Cesar Chavez is the first Latino to be honored with a statewide holiday. March 30 is a holiday for state workers and an optional holiday for public schools.

As we remember the man, Cesar Chavez, it is just as important that we remember the values he embodied.

During his acceptance speech of In Defense of Animal's (IDA) Lifetime Achievement Award, Chávez said, "We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people understand that the animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves…We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them—exploiting animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting animals in the name of food."

On another occassion, Cesar Chavez taught us that "kindness and compassion toward all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people. Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bull fighting and rodeos are cut from the same fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent toward all life will we have learned to live well ourselves."