The U.S. Postal Service recently unveiled the Cesar E. Chavez commemorative
stamp that is scheduled to be issued in April 2003.
stamp honors the former sailor, civil rights and farm labor
leader's "tireless work for justice and equality for all people
through service to others," postal officials
U.S. Postal Service recently unveiled the Cesar E. Chavez commemorative
stamp, which honors the late former sailor, civil rights and
farm labor leader. First issuance will be in April 2003. Image
courtesy U.S. Postal Service.
(Click photo for screen-resolution
best known as the founder of the United Farm Workers of America
of the AFL-CIO, of which he was president when he died on April
23, 1993, at the age of 66.
The stamp will be issued in April 2003 on the 10th anniversary of
his death to honor his life's work and legacy, which continue to
inspire millions, postal officials said. They said through the work
of the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation of Los Angeles, and postal employees,
the stamp will be incorporated into programming and events around
Cesar Chavez Day 2003. The day is an official state holiday in California,
Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, as well as in dozens of
cities and counties throughout the nation.
Chavez spent more than three decades leading the first successful
farm workers union in American history. He's credited with achieving
dignity, respect, fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits
and humane living conditions, as well as countless other rights
and protections for hundreds of thousands of farm workers.
His union's efforts brought about the passage of the groundbreaking
1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act to protect farm
workers. Today, it remains the only law in the nation that protects
the farm workers' right to unionize.
Officials noted that the unveiling and issuance of the stamp is
a tribute to Chavez's significance in American history and to his
legacy's potential in America's future.
Chavez was born on his grandfather's homestead farm in Yuma, Ariz.,
in 1927. He became a migrant farm worker when the family lost the
farm in the Depression. He joined the Navy in 1946, served two years
in the Western Pacific, and returned from the service to marry Helen
Fabela. The two had met while working in the vineyards of central
California, said his son Paul F. Chavez. The Chavezes settled in
the East San Jose barrio of Sal Si Puedes ("Get out if you
can") and eventually had eight children and 31 grandchildren.
"When my father spoke about his service in the Navy, he often
mentioned the discipline he had learned and how it had influenced
him as an organizer years later," Paul Chavez said. "He
was proud to have answered his country's call to duty and had great
respect for those in our armed forces.
"Today, I think his sense of duty and honor continue to influence
a new generation of young Americans," Chavez noted. "A
good example of this is Andrés Irlando, executive director
of the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, who worked for two years with
my father in the early 1990s. Andres was profoundly moved by my
father's commitment to the ideals and values of this country. Andrés
currently serves as a lieutenant j.g. (junior grade) in the United
States Naval Reserve. I sincerely hope my father's sense of duty
and service will continue to be passed down to current and future
Chavez said his father believed in the American dream. "It's
a true testament to his legacy and to the character of this nation
that almost a decade after his passing, his teachings of service,
justice and freedom still ring true," he said. "The Cesar
E. Chavez commemorative stamp is a powerful vehicle to introduce
future generations of Americans to his vital legacy, teaching them
that through determination and hard work they can improve their
own lives and communities."
He noted that despite the injustices and hardships his father experienced
as a migrant worker during his childhood, he never became
disillusioned with America.
"He always felt a deep sense of patriotism and believed in
the promise and ideals of the United States, but more importantly
he believed in the spirit and character of the American people,"
Chavez said. "It was his faith in the American public and our
values as a nation that encouraged him to seek justice, dignity
and equality for all people."
In 1991, Cesar E. Chavez, whose motto in life was "Si se puede"
("it can be done"), received the Aguila Azteca ("Aztec
Eagle"), Mexico's highest award presented to people of Mexican
heritage who have made major contributions outside of Mexico. On
Aug. 8, 1994, he posthumously became the second Mexican American
to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest